(I’m posting The Gods Defense in parts again because I’ve changed a lot to accommodate turning it into a full length book, and I want to start posting the new parts and have them make sense. So here’s the first part of the revised version. These are the pages I showed to an agent at Killer Nashville. She loved them, wanted to see more, and said a full length book would be better than a novella, which is what sparked the rewrite. Enjoy 🙂
THE GODS DEFENSE
“This is ridiculous, Your Honor.” I slapped the judge’s desk before I could stop myself. Oops, good thing we weren’t actually in court. “Can you say Twinkie defense?”
“Objection.” Reily shot out of his chair.
“Sit down, Mr. Reily. This isn’t a courtroom. There is no jury. And tone it down, Ms. Berry,” Judge Spenser said, giving me a light glare over his bifocals as Reily sat back down. “This may be an informal meeting, but that’s a little tarter than I like my lawyers.”
It was a little tarter than the wrinkled old prune liked his women.
I sat down, smoothing my suit skirt. Women lawyers don’t wear pantsuits to court, or interviews, or even last minute meetings with judges in their offices in the South, but especially not in front of a judge like Spenser. I perched on the edge of the leather chair. If I sat back, it would’ve dwarfed me. Not meant for small women. Geez, even Spenser’s chairs were chauvinistic.
His office wasn’t big, he was just a state trial judge after all, but it was dressed to the nines. Polished mahogany desk, thick wine colored curtains pulled back on the window taking up practically a whole wall. The opposite wall was one big built-in bookshelf filled with books of statutes and cases. Can you say affected? Like anyone researched in the twenty-first century by combing through books instead of Westlaw or Lexis or another online database. Tasteful glass and china knickknacks dotted the shelves and Spenser’s giant desk to complete the look.
“I apologize, Your Honor,” I said, gripping the briefcase in my lap for all I was worth. My boss was always teasing me about my ‘talking hands.’ “But there is no basis for this defense. Mr. Reily is merely trying to use the recent confusion to muddle our case. Why doesn’t he just take the plea now and save me the paperwork?”
“I have the right to present an alternate theory of the crime, and this is a valid defense, Your Honor,” Reily said, rat face pinching up. “Hamstead v. Polok, last year, the judge allow-”
“That was in New York.” I flung my left hand out and Reily jerked away, my fingernail barely missing his cheek. Oops. I grabbed my briefcase again. “It was pled out, it never even made it to appellate court. It has no relevance in this case.”
“The judge allowed the defense to use it. The man pled out after the defense was allowed. Since then there have been two more cases where the defendants used the Gods Defense. O’Connor v. G-”
“Neither of those were criminal cases.” Hold onto the briefcase. Hold onto the briefcase. “Those were civil disputes where the gods hired corporations, giving them trade secrets in return, and the corporations claimed they had no clue the gods were going to do anything illegal as payment. They were not saying the gods made them assault someone.”
Reily held up a finger. “Could you please ask Cassandra to stop interrupting me? I know she’s young and pretty, but-”
I blanched. The informality. The disrespect! “I can understand Mr. Reily being annoyed at my interrupting, but I wouldn’t do it so much if he had anything relevant to say. For instance, what do my age or looks have to do with anything?”
Reily and Spenser shared a look. You know, that boys club look older guys get when they’re faced with a young female who was raised in a society that expounds the virtues of equality.
I thought I was screwed the second Spenser was assigned this case. Now I knew I was.
“The law must change with the times,” Spenser said, standing up. The irony of his statement still probably vaulted over his head. Reily and I stood, too. “Every day since the Awakening, we’ve tried to determine what laws apply to the gods and what they can do. We know they can affect people’s minds and actions. Unless you can show Dionysus could not have affected this man, I’m allowing the Defense to use The Gods Defense and to subpoena Dionysus.”
Was he shitting me?
“Your Honor,” my hand flew, fingers twitching as I waved it in front of me, “if you allow this, even if he doesn’t win, defendants will be using this as an argument every time they’re put on trial. ‘Oh, I didn’t mean to kill my wife, a god made me do it. He wanted a sacrifice.’ Dionysus isn’t even in Nashville. He claimed Vegas. Nashville’s Apollo’s. Reily has no,” I punctuated with a slash of my hand, “evidence Dionysus was in any way involved. Dionysus had no motive. There’s no reason to allow this defense. It’s… it’s… it’s ludicrous! Your Honor.”
Spenser narrowed his eyes. “You are dangerously close to a contempt charge, Ms. Berry. This meeting’s over. I’ll see you in court Monday.”
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