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Duped Excerpt

"Really? Why don't we step into my office?

I followed him into his office, where he offered me a seat.

"Please be seated."

After I sat, he straightened up and stared at me. "Now, Mrs. Randle, what can I do for you?"

"I have a zillion questions, but first, I'd like to know, why your client thinks my husband is her husband."

"Perhaps if I showed you some photographs of Jeanette's husband, you could tell me."

"Please do."

He reached in his coat pocket and pulled out a handful of snapshots. The first one I looked at revealed a tall, handsome, African American man in a tux and a pretty woman with long, dark hair in a wedding dress. It was him all right.

I glanced over at James. "Your client is gorgeous."

"Yes, she is."

The second picture showed Max with his arm around the same woman as she held a newborn. The third photo, showed him holding a mixed race toddler and she, a newborn. The fourth photo was similar except the newborn was older and the toddler posed in front of them. "Wait a minute. I bought that shirt for Max not more than a month ago. What gives?"

The lawyer shrugged. "I don't know what to tell you other than he is the children's father."

"Yeah." I said, not quite understanding. After glancing at a couple more snapshots, I didn't see any reason to continue punishing myself, so I handed the stack of photos back to Julius. "Okay, I'm convinced. Your client was married to Max, but he told me he got divorced six months ago."

Julius' brow furrowed in confusion for a few seconds. "I have been Jeanette's attorney for several years. I assure you, there is no divorce, therefore you are both married to the same man."

"Are you sure?"

"As sure as I am that we're all going to die."

I closed my eyes and shook my head. "I had no idea. I hope your client doesn't hate me."

"Of course not. You did nothing wrong. Jeanette kicked him out over six months ago. If anything she feels sorry for you, turning your life upside down."

"That looked like a pretty nice house in the last picture. Jeanette mentioned Bel Air. Is that where it is?"


"Did Max buy the house for her?"

Julius seemed to get kick out of that, chuckling as he spoke, "I shouldn't laugh. No, Max, never brought much to the marriage. Jeanette Randle is fortunate enough to come from a wealthy family. She had the house when they got married. Max was a one man money pit. To my knowledge, Max never worked a day in the four years they've been married."

I felt my heart sink at that news. "How did she find out we were married?"

He shrugged. "Jeanette asked me for a private investigator recommendation a week ago. I understand the investigator discovered a marriage at a wedding chapel in Las Vegas. She called me couple hours ago and said she'd called you. She asked me to call and talk with you and you know the rest."

"Yeah, sucker me, I know the rest."

He chuckled. "Don't kick yourself over it."

I scrunched my nose and lips. "Easy to say. What do we do now? Go to the authorities?"

Julius shook his head in earnest. "No, we don't want to do that. For obvious reasons my client doesn't want Max to go to prison."

I felt my eyebrows arch. "I'll bite. It's not so obvious to me."

He sighed. "She doesn't want the father of her children to be a felon. Do you have a lawyer you could consult with?"

I wrinkled my brow. "Not for anything like this."

Julius raised his hand, his forefinger extended. "I have a couple lawyer friends. Let me make a call."

"By all means."

He cast a perfunctory smile and dialed his land line. "Oh, hi, Zeke. It's Julie."

After chuckling at whatever Zeke said, he went on. "What was the name of that divorce lawyer you called an African American nightmare the other night, at the roast for Jimmy G?"

"Spell that for me." He began writing on a tablet. "Got it. Thanks pal. I'll see you at the poker game Tuesday."

He ripped the top page off and handed it to me.

I read it, "Letta Storm. A woman?"

"Uh-huh and a very good barrister according to Zeke."

"I'm confused, is she a friend of Zeke's."

Julius snickered. "God no! Zeke hates her guts. She made him look like an idiot in a nasty divorce case a month ago and he wasn't the first one she's made a fool out of. If anyone can help you out of this mess, it's her."

"She sounds like my girl. How do I get hold of her?"

He shrugged. "Beats me."

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