Here it is the last chapter!
A huge thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed so far, especially those who have stuck with the story from the start. Thank you so much, I hope you enjoyed it.
"How long are they going to take?"
"It's hard to say, Ma." Jess forced her voice to be as calm as she could, as calmness she didn't feel. "They take as long as they take." Suddenly agitated, she rose and began pacing around the small room provided for them by Sinclair and Associates.
"I wish they would hurry up."
Jessica grinned tightly. At least while they hadn't come back, they hadn't come back with a guilty verdict.
She refused to even think about that. Trying to think about happier times. The first Christmas she could remember. Her graduation from law school. Nick.
"How do you think it went?"
She sighed, snatched from her daydreams, back to dull reality. "Its hard to say. Julie put up a strong case, cast some doubt on the Police evidence and procedures."
She didn't mention that Jim Steele had also put up a strong case. That for all Julie's efforts, the Police evidence still seemed overwhelming. She had made convictions on less.
And so they waited. Not daring to hope.
He lifted the file, flicking idly through it, trying to remember what his life had been like before this case had come into it.
Jim closed the file and put it into the box, carefully labelled 'ROSSI'. Making space on his desk for another case.
Another case, another victim. Another defendant with family and friends convinced of their innocence. Another case that Alex Cabot had handed to him, had asked him to look into for her.
He wondered what she was grooming him for. Wondered if he had the stomach for the sort of game she liked to play. The sort of game he had been forced to play with Jessica.
He looked up at the sound of knuckles rapping against the glass of his door, holding another one of the files in his hand, caught in the act of re-reading Lindsay Monroe's statement.
Brian Peluso stood in the doorway of his office, his face unreadable yet sympathetic.
The court room filled from the back rows forward, eyes and attention focused on the door leading to the jury room. Waiting, wondering. Expecting. Hoping.
Julie Phelps stood behind her table, talking with her clients, a reassuring smile painted across her face. Despite her calmness, her apparent confidence, her eyes kept straying to the closed door. Beside her, when she thought no one was looking at her, Michelle Sinclair chewed nervously on her thumbnail.
Jim Steele sorted through his briefcase, pretending to read his notes, stealing a glance at Jess. Her jaw was clenched, her hands folded tightly in her lap. This case had been hard on her.
Bryce Holland walked in from his chambers, and the court sprang to its feet. He nodded absently, settling into his chair. Waiting.
The door opened in slow motion and the jury made their way to their seats, swimming against the tide of heat.
All of them glanced at Joanna Rossi as they sat down.
"Have you reached a verdict?"
"We have, Your Honour."
"What say you?"
"In the matter of People vs. Jason Rossi on the charges of acquiring an illegal firearm, conspiracy to murder, we, the jury, find the defendant, guilty."
Jason squeezed his eyes shut, gripping the edge of the table hard. Michelle Sinclair patted his arm reassuringly.
Nothing they hadn't expected.
"In the matter of People v Joanna Rossi on the charge of murder in the second degree, we, the jury, find the defendant…." He paused, glancing up at Joanna over the top of the sheet of paper, his hand trembling slightly. "Not guilty."
Relief washed across Jess as she embraced her mother, then her brother, laughter and tears intermingling, as the noise of the court room washed across her.
Julie closed her eyes, her shoulders slumping in relief, memories she had tried to bury and forget rushing to the surface. She glanced at the celebrating Rossi family, and allowed herself to smile. She could enjoy this before she started working on Jason's appeal.
Jim nodded once as the verdict was read out, not looking at the defence table. Busying himself in packing away his file and pen.
Maybe justice had been served.
He lifted his briefcase and turned to leave, almost walking into her as she swept through the gate. "Jess…Jess, wait!"
"What is it, Jim?"
"I'm…I'm glad they came back with a Not Guilty, Jess."
Her eyes flashed, dark and angry. "Go to hell, Jim."
She walked off, leaving him standing along in the middle of the court room.
The End of Trouble Over Me
that's it, folks. Thanks again to everyone who has read the story.
I hope you enjoyed it. Catch you again.
Catch you again.