Judge Timothy Wilcox looked at Christopher like the latter was losing his mind before he shook his head in dismay.
‘How could you possibly know what I want?’
His eyes fell sadly on his brother’s corpse as he fought back his tears.
Christopher leaned against the cold tiled wall and folded his hands while the older man battled his emotions. He had only had the pleasure of meeting Timothy once, and his aura at the time reflected untouchable power. Now he looked like a frail little thing waiting for death.
‘Alright. I’ll start with what I want. I need you to sign a court order to get Sarah out of jail,’ Christopher said bluntly.
Judge Timothy Wilcox looked stunned for a couple of seconds before his somber mood took over again.
‘I can’t help you,’ Judge Wilcox decided with equal bluntness.
Christopher smirked. ‘So you know she’s in jail.’
Judge Wilcox let out a wry laugh. ‘This is New York, Wallace. My turf.’
‘Apparently, someone more formidable has taken over,’ Christopher mocked.
The smile on Judge Wilcox’s face disappeared, and a deep frown took its place.
‘Obviously, you know enough to know that I can’t help you,’ he reiterated, keeping his eyes on Herbert’s body like he was afraid he would disappear.
Christopher sighed. ‘Grow a pair, Timothy. I know you have something on him or Herbert wouldn’t have gone rouge.’
If he didn’t know the man standing at the door like a foot soldier, he might have been surprised.
But he did. So he wasn’t.
‘I don’t know what you are talking about,’ the judge replied, avoiding his gaze.
‘I’ll refresh your memory,’ Christopher continued with a level tone. ‘He sent Herbert after my family, and Herbert did a one-eighty and asked for a ransom instead.’
Christopher saw the man stiffen after his declaration, but he pressed on. ‘I need Sarah out of jail, Wilcox, and you can make it happen.’
The judge turned around sharply and walked towards Christopher. ‘What do you think he’s going to do to me if he sees my signature on the court order? If Sarah’s in jail, it’s because he wants her there. I can’t interfere!’
Christopher watched as the expressions played out on the judge’s face. He was unraveling.
The judge stopped walking and turned around. ‘I’ve said too much,’ the judge admitted, returning to Herbert’s body. ‘Leave me in peace. Let me mourn Herbert in … .’
‘Gina killed Herbert,’ Christopher cut in.
The judge stared wide-eyed at Christopher. Even in the cold room, he could feel his internal temperature rising. He froze as his gaze stayed intently on Christopher’s tall frame, resting against the wall.
‘How do you know that?’ he enquired, looking suspiciously at Christopher.
Christopher remained astute. ‘She all but gloated about it when she returned my kids.’
The judge walked to the side of the room and slumped lazily on the coroner’s chair as the information sunk in.
‘It appears you have lost more control than I thought,’ Christopher muttered. ‘Maybe you are not the man to help me.’
He turned the doorknob and was about to step out of the room before the judge’s voice halted him.
‘Did you ask her to kill my brother?’
Christopher arched a brow as he turned around. ‘I asked for her help. There was no way of knowing what she was going to do, but I certainly wasn’t expecting her to commit murder.’
‘You are the reason that nut killed my brother!’ the judge accused, with tears in his eyes.
‘Like he didn’t have it coming!’ Christopher retorted. ‘The man wanted to enslave my daughters!’
‘You took Sarah from him!’ the judge countered, sniffing away his tears.
‘Did I, judge?’ asked Christopher, folding his brows in frustration.
The judge shook his head in denial. ‘If he only listened to me! Why didn’t he listen?’
‘I’m asking you to listen to me now, judge. We’re wasting precious time. He will come after you sooner or later. Will you help me or not?’ asked Christopher impatiently.
There was an uncomfortable silence in the room while both processed what was about to unfold. Christopher watched as the judge’s shoulders slump in resignation as he looked around the morgue, wondering which locker would be his temporary abode.
‘We need each other to bring them down,’ Christopher continued with a softer tone. ‘And your life isn’t over. I’m sure Clara wouldn’t mind an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe, would she?’
No, she wouldn’t, Timothy thought sadly. He signed their warrants the moment the Chief re-inserted himself into their lives. He couldn’t see a way out. With Herbert gone, there was no one to protect him unless …
‘He has connections everywhere,’ the judge uttered weakly, paused, and continued, ‘and the rabbit hole is deeper than you think.’
‘How so?’ Christopher asked, unfolding his arms.
The judge looked up at him, ‘There’s something else. Something that happened years ago, and if that is one of the secrets the Chief has on me, I’m afraid there’s nowhere for Sarah to hide.’
Christopher blinked twice. He remembered how she wouldn’t stop staring at the Chief in the precinct. Another secret. Why wasn’t he surprised?
‘He’s with her at the precinct,’ he uttered with a hint of panic.
‘I don’t think he will try any funny business in the precinct,’ the judge reasoned. ‘I hear the Mayor’s on his behind, so he probably has men undercover everywhere. I don’t suppose you have anything to do with that.’
The judge smiled when Christopher turned away from his prying gaze. Maybe this alliance could work, he thought.
‘Sarah’s better off in jail, for now, Wallace. There’s no telling what he will do if she’s out in the open.’
‘Can I know what this secret is?’ Christopher asked, exasperated, bringing him back to reality.
‘It’s not my secret to tell,’ the judge muttered.
‘We both know Sarah won’t tell me. If we want us to have a chance at ending this, you need to tell me,’ Christopher insisted angrily.
Just then, his phone rang, and he reluctantly tore his eyes away from the judge to his coat pocket.
It was the hotel.
‘Yes, what is it?’ he barked.
He had a bit frazzled when he ended the call.
‘Sarah’s at the hotel. He had her released.’
Their eyes locked for a moment.
‘I have to get to her,’ Christopher announced, twisting the doorknob and dashing through the deserted reception of the city morgue.
He was barely out of the main entrance when he received another call.
The hair at the back of his head rose in anger as he stopped, took some deep breaths, and steadied himself to receive the call.
‘Chief,’ he answered, just as the call was about to expire.
‘Christopher, where are you? I didn’t even know when you left the precinct,’ the Chief asked.
Christopher took a moment to look around his environs. Aside from the security guards on duty, it was as dark and deserted as a ghost town. ‘Looking for anyone that can help get Sarah released for the holidays,’ he said. ‘But no such luck. No one’s willing to put pen to paper.’
He took one last look around before entering his car. ‘I’m losing hope, Chief. What do I tell the girls?’
‘Calm down. Come over to my place and cool off. We’ll figure something out tomorrow.’
Christopher’s grip on the steering wheel hardened in rage, but he responded calmly. ‘Sure. I’m a bit far off, but I’m on my way. Will Gina be joining us?’
He heard the elation in the Chief’s tone. ‘No, Chrissie. It’s just us boys tonight.’
Christopher pumped the gas and sped through the snow as he headed back to the hotel.