Light from a window in Sprinkle’s Store cast a harsh glare
across the front seat of Scott Nolan’s car. He squinted and reached
for the visor. Before he could lower it, the light went out. Darkness
cloaked the parking lot. Moments later a woman came from the
building, crossed the gravel lot, and disappeared down a trail
through the bushes on the far side.
Scott checked his watch, then lowered the windows and
switched off the engine. Heavy night air hung around him like a
thick, wet blanket. Sweat formed along his arms. The sleeves of his
shirt stuck to his skin. He loosened the cuffs and rolled them up his
forearms, then unbuttoned the collar of his shirt.
Behind him he heard the whine of tires on the pavement. A
truck passed pulling a boat on a trailer. After it came a motorcycle.
When they were gone, the night grew quiet and still.
Before long headlights appeared in the distance. As they came
nearer he could see that it was a car. The car slowed and turned
from the pavement. Gravel crunched beneath the tires as it rolled
behind him to the opposite side of the store. Scott heard the engine
stop. A car door opened, then clicked closed.
Footsteps approached, coming up behind him. He glanced in
the mirror but saw only the gray outline of the bushes against the
evening sky. Then the passenger door opened. Scott jumped at the
sound. Mike Connolly slid in beside him on the front seat.
At fifty-something, Connolly’s dark hair was beginning to turn
gray. He was slim and athletic, but years of drinking and hard living
had left lines around the corners of his eyes and robbed his skin
of its natural luster. Still, he was the best lawyer Scott knew and the
only one he trusted.
Connolly glanced over at him. “What is it we have to meet out
Scott reached over the back of the seat for his jacket. He took a
paper from the inside pocket and handed it to Connolly.
“They served me with this today.”
Connolly looked at the document.
“It’s a subpoena for a deposition.”
“I know. Why do they want to talk to me?”
Connolly laid the subpoena in his lap and leaned against the
“Camille Braxton’s mother is suing the bank and Buie Hayford
about the way they managed that trust.”
Scott was puzzled.
“Tonsmeyer Trust. The one I told you about. Owned that building
where they had Panama Tan.” Connolly grinned. “You
remember Panama Tan, don’t you?”
Scott ignored the needling question.
“They needed to be sued. Why do they want me?”
“It’s not you they want.” He looked over at Scott. “It’s me.”
“Larry King called me the other day. He wants me to testify
about what happened with the tanning salon. The women. The
warehouse where they had them staying. How Defuniak was in
there. In the building where they were keeping them. Knew all
Scott felt frustrated.
“So they depose everyone who ever knew you?”
“Who knows? Buie’s lawyer would depose me, but he knows
I’m not talking about anything. Most of what I know is privileged,
and getting past that is more than he wants to get into. And even if
he did, none of it would help his client.” He handed the paper back
to Scott. “So they’re asking you about it.”
“But I wasn’t there. All I did was drive them over to Florida
after you got them out.”
A smile spread across Connolly’s face.
“And you went to the tanning salon.”
Scott felt his cheeks flush with the memory. He turned away.
“Don’t remind me.”
He could feel Connolly staring at him.
“You closed your eyes. Right?”
Memories of that night swept through Scott’s mind like a storm.
He’d been there all right. And he’d closed his eyes—most of the
Scott cleared his throat.
“Any word from Raisa?”
“Not really. They say she’s all right.”
“Still miss her?”
“I don’t know. Hey, I would have looked too.”
Scott turned from the window and swung his arm toward
Connolly. His hand struck Connolly on the shoulder.
“I didn’t look.”
“Okay. Whatever you say.”
Connolly continued to laugh.
Scott glared at him, trying to be mad, but he couldn’t keep from
“Well, I might have looked a little.” He slapped Connolly on the
chest. “And every time you bring it up I have to work for a week to
get it out of my mind.”
Connolly laughed even harder. Scott leaned his head back
against the seat. They both caught their breath.
“Hear from anyone else?”
“Just Victoria.” Connolly chuckled. “Hollis tells me more than I
want to know about her.”
“How is Hollis?”
“What about the others? Hear from any of them?”
“No. I think everyone else was resettled. Scattered across the
country. Government couldn’t really send them back. Not after all
Scott stared ahead out the windshield.
“Can you imagine? Someone comes to you. You think they can
open the door to your dreams. Then you wake up and realize
you’re trapped.” He looked over at Connolly. “And I mean really
trapped. Economically, socially, physically.”
“And I’m sure it happens every day.”
“Shuttled from place to place. Bought. Sold. Beaten. Forced to
His voice trailed away.
Connolly took a breath.
“Yeah, well, we got them out.” He sighed again. “And now the
bank’s gonna pay for it.”
“Think they can win?”
“No. The people who filed the lawsuit.” Scott glanced at the subpoena.
“Oh, yeah.” He nodded. “She can win. The only real question is
who goes to jail.”
Scott felt the bottom drop out of his stomach. Jail. Testimony.
The grand jury. There was no way Connolly could know about
Tatiana. He did his best to hide the look from his face.
“A judge hears all that stuff, somebody will do some time. I
mean, all the prosecutor would have to do is follow the script.”
Scott felt a sense of relief.
“Yeah. I guess so.”
Connolly leaned forward and opened the door.
“Anyway. We can’t talk about this anymore.”
“Because they’ll ask you if we talked. You’ve taken enough depositions
to know that.”
Scott nodded. That was a long time ago. Most days, he never
even thought about what he used to be.
Connolly got out of the car and pushed the door closed. He
rested both hands on the door frame and leaned his head through
“Keep your eyes open. Buie’s lawyer is a guy named John
Somerset. He’s smart and meticulous. So when you answer, make
sure it’s the truth, ’cause he won’t forget a word you say. And watch
out for Buie. He’ll get as dirty as it takes to win.”
Connolly stepped away. Scott started the engine and pressed a
button to raise the window.
Just then, Connolly leaned through the opening once more.
“And whatever you do, tell the truth.”