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19

Mary and Judy stayed with Paige, lingering in her apartment kitchen after the detectives had left. Mary's doubts about Paige were only encouraged by Detective Brinkley, who was apparently beginning to question Jack's confession and suspect Paige. Mary wondered what he knew and if he had any evidence that Jack was innocent. But Paige could know that, too. That wasn't much fun, was it?' Mary asked her.

'No.' The teenager opened her refrigerator door, retrieved a slim jug of orange juice, and set it down on the black granite counter. 'They got mean at the end.'

'They make extra for mean.'

Paige didn't smile. 'What do they want from me, though? They were acting like I was the guilty one. Do you think they suspect me or something?'

Mary searched her face, and Paige was plainly upset. 'They have to investigate the crime, and we have to permit that, within limits.'

'But they have my dad in jail.' She took a glass from the glistening cabinet and poured herself a fresh-squeezed orange juice, without offering it to anyone else. 'They won't even let him out on bail. Why are they coming to me?'

'They have to check everything out. I thought it would be more pleasant for you to be questioned here, rather than downtown.'

'It totally was. I never want to see that place again.' Paige wrinkled her small nose. 'I swear I saw a rat outside there last night.'

Judy smiled. 'You did. It's their pet rat. Size of a dog.'

Mary looked over, horrified. 'Are you serious?'

'Yep. The cop at the desk told me. His name's Coop.'

'The rat or the cop?'

'The cop, doof.'

'Great,' Paige said, with a shudder. 'Well, I'm just glad it's over.' She sipped her juice, leaving a parabola of pulpy film on the glass. 'It's kind of a lot to deal with. I mean, tomorrow is my mother's funeral. I don't suppose they'll let my dad go to that, will they?'

'I doubt it,' Mary said, and thought it a strange question. She found her suspicions about Paige confirmed the more time she spent with her. She just didn't have any solid proof. Yet.

'I feel so bad for him. Worried.'

'Don't worry.' Judy touched Paige's arm. 'We'll take care of your father, and you take care of yourself. We'll go the funeral, of course.'

'Thanks. That's nice.'

'We're happy to.' Judy exchanged looks with Mary, who remained dubious. She kept thinking of what Fontana had told her at the store, about Paige's mother calling her a prostitute. She wondered how that would make Paige feel about her mother the next day. Angry enough to kill her? No. But what if there were a lifetime of it? Mary decided to explore it. If she were going to prove Jack's innocence, she couldn't do it through him because he wouldn't let her. Maybe she could do it through Paige.

'I don't know much about being a model,' Mary said. 'It sounds fun. Glamorous. Do you like it, going to photo shoots and all?'

'Sure, yeah. It's cool. But it's not like you go to a photo shoot. It's like you work at one. I mean, it's work.'

'Well, how? Like take the Bonner shoot, for example. How is that work? Isn't it just fake-smiling in nice clothes? Like being a lawyer.'

Paige laughed. 'No way. You have to stand for hours and they don't treat you that well.'

'How so? I would think models get the star treatment, especially if they have a manager there.' Mary was choosing her words with care, and Judy shot her a warning glance.

'No way.' Paige nodded, not completely happily. 'Sometimes my mother would see things I should have done better, like if my hands looked stupid. I don't always know what to do with my hands.' She fell suddenly quiet and just as Mary was about to follow up, Judy interrupted.

'But Paige, I always thought the photographer could make you look better,' she said, and Mary knew it wasn't coincidental. Judy was the only person less interested in the modeling profession than Mary.

'No. They tell you how to stand, and that's it,' Paige answered, unaware of the tug-of-war over her. 'The girl has to do it.'

Mary yanked back. 'Who are some of the photographers you use, like for the Bonner shoot? I'm thinking about getting my photo taken for work. You know, tough woman lawyer in front of a row of law books.'

Judy snorted, and Paige set down her juice. 'Caleb Scott shot Bonner, but I wouldn't use him. He's a jerk. Most of the time, like for all the catalog work, we use Vivi Price. She has her own studio in New York. Ever hear of her? She used to be an assistant for Demarchelier.'

Mary made a mental note. Trevor must like having a girlfriend who's a professional model,' she said, pushing it.

'Trevor? Yeah. He's cool with it.' Paige checked her watch, a silver Rolex that hung loose as a bracelet on her knobby wrist. 'Well, I gotta go. I'm gonna meet him for a late lunch. He doesn't have any classes until three, and they have open campus.'

'Where does he go to school?'

'Downtown, at Philadelphia Select. He's going to Princeton next year. He's really smart.' Paige's smile turned professional. 'I should get ready or I'm gonna be late. It takes me forever to get ready.'

'Where are you meeting him? Maybe we can drop you off.'

'No. I can get a cab. It's just at the Four Seasons. Thanks, anyway.'

'Okay.' Mary touched Judy's arm. 'We'd better get moving then, lady,' she said, and tried not to sound too eager. She'd have to hurry to do what she needed.

Mary powered down the sidewalk, hailing cabs as she walked, with no luck. It was so cold that spittle froze on the concrete sidewalk. The trees were dark hands reaching to a stark blue sky. Still she loved Philly in winter. 'Don't you wonder about what Paige just said?'

'You're outta your mind.' Judy hurried along to keep pace, hauling a heavy brown briefcase, the accordion type that law professors carried. 'What is it with you and Paige? Why don't you like her?'

'I think she's selfish. Did you see, she didn't offer us any orange juice, and she barely said thanks. These things matter.'

'No, they don't.' Judy's mouth flattened to a hyphen, giving a sharp edge to her voice. 'Bad manners aren't against the law.'

They're telling details.'

Telling what? We're supposed to be preparing a defense, and this case isn't about her. It's about her father.'

'Well, I think he's innocent, so I have to investigate other possibilities.' Mary shivered in her cloth trench coat as she tried to hail a cab. She and Judy never argued. It suddenly felt very cold. 'Right?'

'Wrong. She's off the point.' Judy's eyes became skeptical slits of blue and she stopped in mid-sidewalk, against a backdrop of colonial town houses. The soft melon color of their brick and the bubbles in their mullioned windows testified to their authenticity. 'We still have no reason to think Newlin is innocent, or that she did it.'

'I told you about the fight Paige had with her mother, in the dressing room.' Mary faced her best friend on the street. 'I bet it wasn't the first time they fought that way.'

'That's not enough. Everybody fights with their mother sometimes, probably more often in dressing rooms than anyplace else. They don't just up and kill them.'

'Paige just said she wished her father could come to the funeral. If you thought your dad had stabbed your mom to death, would you want him at her funeral?'

Judy sniffed. Her upturned nose was red at the tip, from the chill. 'No.'

'And aren't you hearing Paige has a lot more sympathy for dad, who tells us he's the bad guy, than for mom, who got killed? I mean, if Paige had killed her mother and was letting her father take the rap, she'd feel guilty, wouldn't she? I can't be the only guilty person in the world.'

Judy blinked. 'Okay, I admit it, it does seem odd.'

'So, to support my theory about Jack covering for Paige, we have to understand a lot about this family in a very short time, and we need to know how they related. We need to reconstruct the events leading up to the murder, to put it in context. Make sense?'

'I guess.'

Mary suppressed her surprise. Had she won? Was it that easy? 'So you agree with me? You think I'm right?'

'I think you could be.'

'Are you sure? I mean, I'm usually not.'

Judy laughed. 'This time you are. You're growing up, right before my eyes. What do you want to do next, boss? It's your case.'

Mary thought a minute, suddenly giddy. 'Okay, you go back to the office and find precedent for the preliminary hearing. I was going to follow my lead.'

'Your "lead"?' Judy smiled. 'You're a lawyer, not a cop.'

'Don't question me, I'm the boss!' An empty Yellow cab whizzed by and Mary waved frantically. 'Yo, wait!

Stop!'

'Mare!' Judy called after her. 'Where are you going?' 'Catch me if you can!' she shouted, running after the

cab, and Judy shot off after her, laughing.


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