My face is pressed against the cool, steel bars of my cell when the guard sashays down the hall toward me, crumbs still on his beard from whatever he ate for breakfast. Behind me, my three cell mates are still asleep. Well, one is passed out in his own vomit while the other two have their eyes shut as they sit on the concrete bench and lean their heads back against the cement wall.
None of them recognized me when the cops tossed me in here last night. Thank God. I don’t need pricks in prison trying to steal from me. The jeans I’ve got on were probably a cool grand just by themselves. And though I’m not attached to them, I don’t feel like being in here pant-less.
“Liam Stone, you made bail.”
Of course I did.
The guard removes his ringed chain from his belt and slides the keys along the metal, searching for the one to set me free. He slips a key in the lock and it clicks before he yanks on the door to pull it open. The loud creak of hinges in need of oil fill the dank space.
“This way,” the guard says before slamming the door shut behind me. He points down the hallway in front of me, nudging me forward.
I glare at him but keep my cool. I might be out of here now, but if I get belligerent or punch a cop my days in here will quickly multiply.
“Who bailed me out?” I ask.
“The hell if I know. Some guy in a suit.”
That would be my lawyer: Mr. Thomas. No one else would come down here to bail me out except for maybe my agent or publicist and I can’t see either of them shelling out their own cash to help me—even if it means getting it right back. Mr. Thomas is probably the only person that comes to my rescue when I truly need someone. My family? They don’t know the meaning of support unless it involves asking me for handouts—except for my sister, Claire. And she wrote me and my family off a long time ago. Friends? I don’t have friends in this world, not ones that would stand by me if I wasn’t famous. Nope. I got no one except Mr. Thomas.
The cop opens another door and waves me through. Mr. Thomas is on the other side, looking pale and weathered. His face almost as white as his greying hair. One of these days he’s going to retire and then I’m screwed. I don’t trust anyone like I trust him.
“Hey, man,” I say, shaking his hand. “Thanks.”
“Get your paperwork straightened away and then we’ll talk.”
I nod and do as I’m told. It’s funny how this man, once a complete stranger some six years ago, is now the only person I listen to without question. In some ways he’s the father I never had.
I sign my paperwork and get my shoelaces and belongings back, although I’m sure I”m missing a few hundred in my wallet. Still, I’m out of jail and getting in a fight with the dick behind the counter probably isn’t the best idea right now. Asshole can have it. I make a few hundred in five minutes. I hope he enjoys it.
I follow Mr. Thomas to his beamer. The sun peeks out over the city buildings in the distance, the surrounding sky a pale shade of pink and purple. I never realized how early it is. I’ll have to raise Mr. Thomas’ retainer for this. It’s barely six o’clock in the morning.
I climb inside and Mr. Thomas stares at me and points to my seatbelt. “Oh right. Forget you were weird about that.”
“About following the law?” He says. “Yeah. I can be that way.”
“How much trouble am I in?” I ask.
“Liam, you assaulted a professional ball player. How do think this is going to play out?”
“He was fucking with my wife.”
“That may get you some sympathy points, but the guy is loved and your wife is telling the press you’re controlling and she’s afraid of you.”
“Please. I should be fucking afraid of her. I never touched her in my life. But her? Can’t tell you how many times she’s slapped me or punched me in the face.”
“It’s her word against yours.”
“So what am I looking at?”
“I don’t know. This isn’t your first brush with the law. If you’re lucky, you’ll get probation, maybe some community service.”
“And if I’m not?”
He eyes me and from the expression on his face I don’t need him to finish his sentence. Jail time, of course. But where and for how long? Perhaps I would get thrown in jail with dear old Daddy. He’s got another few years left in the slammer. Fuck. I said I never wanted to be like him and it seems I’m just that.
“You’ll have a hearing next Monday. I suggest you lay low and be an angel in the meantime. Think about how you’re going to make this right.”
“I mean it, Liam,” he says, his tone firm. “You might not like the ending to this story.”
He’s telling me something I already know. My wife is both my enemy and my best friend. The only woman I’ve ever loved. And she’s also the woman who’ll ruin me if I don’t get away from her. “I’m done with her,” I say, more to myself than to my lawyer, and for the first time in forever I’m pretty sure I mean it.