A Brother's Honor

By: Brenda Jackson

Prologue

“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.





PART I

We do not remember days; we remember moments.

–Anonymous





Chapter One

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.

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