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About the author:
Jeanne Bannon has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty-five years as an editor and writer. Come visit her website www.jeannebannon.com.
What inspired you to write your book?
The whole set was inspired by the romance authors who are featured here and by the popularity of last year’s first Valentine’s Pets & Kiss boxed set. I wrote Love on Trial as a love letter to one of my favorite cities, Chicago. I chose a Boston terrier and a Jack Russell for my pets because two of my friends had both of these dogs, and I fell in love with their personalities. I remember visiting my brother in Chicago and taking many long walks with him and his dog along the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston and at the dog park near the zoo. The rest of it was simple.
Here is a short sample from the book:
LOVE ON TRIAL by P.C. Zick
OF ALL DAYS, CLYDE CHOSE this one to break away from his leash and run away during his morning walk. Jude Crandall needed to be in court in less than two hours, and instead of showering and looking over her notes once more for her opening statement, she was standing in the dog park calling for her Boston terrier.
He must have seen a squirrel and that made him go crazy. Jude’s mind swirled with thoughts of bringing justice for the Simpson family, and she lost track of holding tight to the leash. Now she’d be late and ran the risk of blowing the biggest day so far of the trial.
And wouldn’t Malik Moore just love that? She could picture him sitting at the table across the aisle, with a smirk partially hidden by his hands that formed a tent over his mouth. His smooth dark skin glowing under the collar of his white starched shirt, he’d probably make some remark about how nice it was for her to show up. It galled her to think she might blow the case from day one simply because she couldn’t keep Clyde under control.
Relief flooded her when she saw her dog racing toward her on his short legs. His tongue dangled out the side of his mouth. He yapped and jumped in the air when he came closer to her.
“If you think I’m giving you a treat for that stunt, you’re absolutely wrong.” She reached in her pocket and pulled out a small biscuit. “I’m giving you this treat because you came back.”
“Talking to your dog now?” The voice came from behind her, and she swirled around to face her accuser.
It was exactly who she suspected of sneaking up on her and eavesdropping. Her courtroom nemesis, Malik.
“What are you doing here?” She wanted to run with Clyde back to her apartment, but then she relaxed. If Malik was here, then they’d both be late.
“Walking Suzanne.” He pointed down to the puppy, a Jack Russell terrier, sitting obediently at his feet while Clyde jumped and yapped around Suzanne until his leash was wound around Jude’s legs. “I need to get going, though. Don’t want to be late on the first day of the trial. I might miss the prosecution’s opening arguments.”
Clyde lay down next to Suzanne and tilted his head sideways. She turned her head away.
“Your dog is a bit of a snob.” Jude scratched Clyde’s head to help him through the sting of rejection. “Maybe it’s true what they say.”
“And what would that be?” Malik asked
“That dogs take on the personalities of their owners.”
“Person. I’m her person, not her owner. And neither one of us is a snob.” Malik leaned down and picked up Suzanne. Clyde jumped up and yapped. “See you in court. My client is ready for this to be over.”
Jude watched Malik’s broad shoulders and slender waist recede toward the Chicago River. His client is ready for it to be over? How dare he even suggest that the trial was a burden for his client, who had driven a vehicle while intoxicated and then proceeded to kill an innocent father of three? What an utter jerk Malik Moore was. She’d sensed it from their first encounter during jury selection, but now she knew for sure. His client, who couldn’t wait for the trial to be over, had gotten behind the wheel of his BMW one night after drinking for hours at some upscale club on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. He proceeded to lose control of the vehicle when the car hit an embankment where the road went under an overpass. When he overcompensated to bring the wheel back to the road, he rammed the side of the car in the lane next to him. The impact came swiftly and violently. Jordan Simpson never had a chance to react. He died on the scene from his head injuries. But now the one responsible for Jordan’s death couldn’t wait for the trial for reckless homicide to be finished. Jordan’s widow and three children probably felt the same way, but for different reasons.
“Come on, Clyde. I need to get you home so I can go slaughter Suzanne’s awfully stuck-up person.”
Jude walked into the courtroom, her head held high, her gray power suit giving her more confidence than she felt. Since being hired as an assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County two years earlier, she’d had a few high-profile cases, but none of them affected her so deeply. It was a case of the haves versus the have nots. The Simpsons represented the have nots, but only in economic terms. Both Jordan and his wife worked in low-paying service industry jobs—he had been on the maintenance crew for a large hotel downtown on the Magnificent Mile and she was a housekeeper in the same hotel. Lori Simpson told Jude they barely had enough to feed the three growing kids, and now with Jordan’s pay check missing, it would be even more difficult. Social Security would only stretch so far, and there was no overtime on SSI. That’s something the defendant Damon Chatsworth, the son of a wealthy Chicago grocery store chain owner, would never understand.
Jude wanted the man who had caused this tragedy to pay by receiving the longest sentence possible, which was ten years under Illinois law. There would be some justice in that at least. She glanced at the seats behind the prosecution table, but didn’t see Lori. She wasn’t going to be able to attend every day of the trial because when she didn’t work, she didn’t get paid. Jude knew the extended Simpson family was taking turns coming to court. For the opening arguments, Jordan’s father and mother sat in the front row and smiled thinly when they saw Jude turn around. She raised her hand and gave them a thumb up signal. She would make sure the arrogant bastard on the other side of the courtroom paid for his mistake of driving while under the influence—triple the legal limit allowed in Illinois. And even better, Malik Moore, the defendant’s attorney, would look ridiculous for defending such a jerk.
“Good morning, Ms. Crandall.” Malik stood facing her on the aisle. “I trust you were able to get showered after your walk in the park.”
He was handsome, she’d give him that. But she had a feeling he used that to win his cases. She’d heard the rumors about him, flashing his white teeth and using impeccable manners under all circumstances. It was a cheap ploy to win over enemies, and she wasn’t buying it. Today, he’d opted for a light blue shirt with navy suit and tie. Fortunately, the grin across his face turned him as ugly as a rotting apple so she didn’t feel tempted or attracted to him.
“Yes, plenty of time. It looks like your client is lonely over there all by himself. Better go give him some attention while you can.”
Malik turned to his side of the aisle and greeted Damon Chatsworth—even his name reeked of entitlement—who slightly nodded his head in greeting.
Jude returned to her notes and wrote a few words in the margins to remind her of the strongest points of the case. Her assistant, Gerald, looked over her shoulder.
“How are you today?” he asked. “Feeling nervous?”
“Not at all. This case is a simple one. It’s a waste of the taxpayer’s time and money that Mr. Chatsworth pled not guilty. This should be a slam dunk.”
“You know you shouldn’t say things like that.” Gerald waved his finger in her face. “Don’t tempt the hands of fate with hubris.”
“All rise.” Jude hadn’t even seen the bailiff enter the room. The judge opened the door behind the bench and stepped into the courtroom. Then the twelve jurors filed in, and the day began. Jude rose to make her opening statement, praying fervently the words would come to her as they’d always done, even as a very young child, when she’d try to win arguments against her father.
Growing up with a father who was both a polished attorney and a practiced politician forced her to compete on some level with him or risk being forgotten or ignored by her younger siblings—four of them male. She’d become an attorney because of her father, but she wasn’t a politician. Now it was time to use all her skills to bring justice in an unfair world.
Gerald gave her an encouraging nod when the judge asked her to begin. She stood and armed with a smile, walked over to the juror’s box.
“Your honor and ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I beg your forgiveness for this trial today.” And Jude was off doing what she did best. “We really have no business being here because the defendant, Damon Chatsworth, is so obviously guilty of reckless homicide there is no need to go through this charade and force the family of Jordan Simpson to relive the most horrific tragedy imaginable when the man sitting at that table”— she paused and turned slowly toward Damon—“willfully got behind the wheel of his car after having drunk himself three times past the legal limit for driving and misjudged the embankment under the overpass. When Mr. Chatsworth’s car hit Mr. Simpson’s, there was only one blessing. It happened so quickly and violently that Jordan Simpson didn’t live long enough to feel any shock or pain. He was simply gone. Gone at the hands of a very drunk Damon Chatsworth who is so arrogant and feels he’s so entitled to break laws that he considers himself not guilty of this crime.”
Jude strode nearer the jurors’ box. And then she looked at each one, making eye contact with those who kept their eyes on her. She hadn’t won them all over yet, but she would.
“The prosecution will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Damon Chatsworth killed Jordan Simpson, a hardworking man, the loving husband of Lori Simpson, and the devoted father to his three children. These children are now growing up without a father, a father who would still be with them if not for that man sitting right there. Yes, that man sitting here in this courtroom with a smile on his face. And why is he smiling? Because he’s certain you would never convict the likes of him, someone so rich, so elite, so important, that breaking the law just doesn’t apply to him.” She paused and stared first at Damon and then brought her gaze back to the jurors.
“Let’s prove him wrong. He isn’t above any laws. The prosecution will prove to you that he is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, and you’ll have to return a verdict of guilty for reckless homicide in the death of Jordan Simpson.”
Before she sat down, she once again let her gaze drift over the twelve jurors. This time all of them met her look, and she knew she had them right where she wanted them—on the side of justice.