Judge Honoria Walker knows there is something more to the story of Jason Banes. Unable to accept his guilt, she takes it upon herself to do something about it. Jason agrees to help track down the elusive Orchid, partly to reduce his sentence, but mostly to help the families of the people she murdered, find closure.
Jason Banes walked calmly back to his cell with the bailiffs. The man who stood closest to the judge’s desk was a tall, heavily muscled black man named Cortland.
“So, did you really screw that chick for thirty-six hours?”
Jason grinned, casting his eyes at the other man. “Not continuously, but yeah. Best time of my life. She was the most intoxicating woman I’ve ever been with.”
“You’re what, nineteen, twenty?”
“Shit,” the bailiff said with incredulity. “I’m over twice your age, ain’t never happened to me.”
“It will never happen to me again,” the young thief said with a sigh. “Even if I do get out of here before I’m fifty, I’ll never meet anyone else like Orchid.”
“Seems to me, she ain’t done you no favors so far,” the bailiff said when they got to his cell.
“True. But I’ve got my memories, Mr. Cortland.”
“Did you stay with her the whole time you planned your robbery?”
He opened the cell, let Jason walk past him, then closed the door with a clang.
“I did. Of course, after the first debauch, she was all business and only a smidge of seduction. She gave me just enough to keep me drooling after her. Short choke chain, as it were. And drool I did. Ashamed of my behavior, really. I should know better.”
“You’re a man,” Cortland remarked with a laugh. “We don’t think so clear when our peckers are involved. I’m shocked you actually planned a successful robbery with her around.”
“She wasn’t for much of the planning stage. She’d go off on some errand and leave me alone. She was lining up our equipment and such the like—or so she said. She knew she was a distraction. Anytime she came around, I was dragging her back to bed.” He chuckled, remembering how annoyed she’d gotten with him on more than one occasion. “I mean, you don’t give a gent a banquet like that and expect it to satisfy him, yeah?”
The two bailiffs laughed at the young thief.
“No, sir,” the younger one, Drover, added. “I didn’t even get that much action on my honeymoon.”
“Me neither,” Cortland said rather sadly.
“Well, when you get home to your wives tonight, buy them dinner and take them to bed early, and make them the happiest women on earth.” Jason sat dejectedly on his bunk.
The two other men exchanged a look.
“Don’t worry, kid,” Drover said. “The judge, she’s tough, but she’s fair. Maybe she’ll work out something for you.”
“I certainly hope so, Mr. Drover. I’d hate to spend my life in prison as somebody’s bitch.” He stared at his folded hands.
“We’ll see you tomorrow, sport,” Cortland said quietly. “You take it easy, okay?”
“Thanks,” Jason said softly. “Thanks for everything.”
He changed out of his suit and sat quietly on his bunk until dinner came around. Distractedly, he thanked the man who brought his food. Setting the tray down on the bunk beside him, he ate from habit more than hunger.
Shortly after he finished, he heard voices in the corridor outside the cell block. One of them had to be Judge Walker. She strode through the door with her two bailiffs in tow. Like the Queen Mary, she sailed to his cell, standing just out of reach. Drover and Cortland flanked her, their faces blank.
“So,” the judge began. “Mrs. Prentice thinks you can help the police and FBI find this Orchid.”
“She’s got more confidence than I do.”
“Do you think you can?”
“Not from inside this cell, Your Honor. But if you let me out, I won’t rest until I find her and bring her down.”
“What makes you think you could? If you found her, how do I know that she won’t put you under her spell again. More to the point, how do I know this isn’t some clever rouse to get me to release you. The world’s a big place. You could simply disappear.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Put a tracker on me. Not the clothing, that’s too easy to remove. The ankle bracelet thing. The police or the FBI, whoever, could monitor me. I know my promise doesn’t mean much as a convicted felon, but I swear to you, Your Honor, I will not let you down.”
“I want to believe you, Jason. What’s more, I want to give you the chance to prove yourself. But more than that, I want to stop this woman before she kills again and destroys any more families.”
“Me too,” he admitted. “It’s not about me or my revenge. Would I like to see her pay for what she’s done to me? Yes. But I looked out at those people in the courtroom today and I thought, ‘There’s not a single person in this world who’d mourn me if I died right now.’” He bent his head, barely speaking. “It’s not a good feeling, that sort of revelation.”
The judge put her hand on his as he clung to the bars. His eyes met hers, pleading.
“I’ll see what I can do. I can make the offer. If they don’t jump at the carrot, it’s not because I didn’t try.”
“Thank you. I know you’ll do what you can for me.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” she said briskly, clearing her throat. “You may not ever thank me for this.”
“I don’t want to die behind bars,” he said calmly. “I’d sure rather take my chances outside.”
Judge Walker patted his hand. “I’ll have an answer by tomorrow morning.”
He nodded silently, thanking her with his disarmingly dark brown eyes. He sat dejectedly on his bunk, hands folded in his lap, staring at the floor.
© Dellani Oakes