Audrey stayed as long as she could with Gregory Pope but eventually needed to get back to work. She had a 3:00 PM meeting for which she would already be late, even if she sped. She was surprised Pope came with her as far as the pedestrian bridge, quiet sobs occasionally escaping his otherwise stony demeanor.
“Thank you for coming, Spencer,” he said. “I won’t forget.”
Audrey nodded as she left without another word.
What was there to say?
She could still make out his figure as she walked away. The man stood resolute despite the heavy weight thrust upon him.
She was soon back in her car, keeping her foot on the gas pedal, rushing toward the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
Her phone rang, and she answered without looking to see who was calling by using the Bluetooth buttons on her steering wheel.
“Mom, is it true?” Chuck demanded.
The words brought Audrey back to reality. “Is what true?”
“Rachel Pope. Is she dead?”
Audrey hesitated. She didn’t know what to say, and she didn’t want to jeopardize her professional status by revealing confidential information.
The news would certainly get out.
“Where did you hear that?”
Chuck had attended high school with Rachel. They had even dated briefly during that awkward stage when kids start going together.
He deserved the truth, not dissembling words.
“You can’t tell anybody, not until you read about it in the newspaper—”
“So it is true! This is horrible. How did it happen?”
“I can’t say more. Again, it’s very important—”
“Who did this?”
“It’s difficult to say at this point. There’s not much we know. I can’t comment on what we do know.”
“I’m sorry. I wish I could say more, but I can’t. I also can’t talk long. I have a meeting I can’t change. I’m—”
“Thanks for nothing.” He hung up.
Audrey sighed but wasn’t offended or surprised. Of her two sons, Chuck was more likely to overreact, but he was always sweet afterward if he did something rude. This particular flaw had infuriated her over the years because she’d tried many times to help him, but it hadn’t gotten much better.
By the time she saw him, she knew he would apologize for hanging up. He would also shamelessly try to wheedle out any other information he could.
She hesitated for only a moment before pressing a button on the car’s dashboard screen, calling her husband.
He answered on the second ring.
“Well, isn’t this a surprise,” Jim said pleasantly. “The great Deputy District Attorney Audrey Spencer doesn’t usually have time to call her husband in the middle of the day.”
“Rachel Pope is dead.”
“Chuck just called, apparently he heard a rumor about it somewhere, not sure where, but if you could reach out—”
“Of course, sorry to hear about this. How’s Pope doing?”
“Not well. I just came from the crime scene.”
“What can I do?” He paused. It appeared he was typing something on his computer. “My afternoon is free if you need anything.”
Jim was a lawyer, too. He practiced civil litigation. It was part of why Audrey had focused on practicing criminal law. There was already more friction than necessary with two argumentative lawyers in the family. They didn’t need to be looking over each other’s shoulders, too, trying to backseat drive each other’s cases. They both had a high-level understanding of the other’s practice area, and Jim had even started out as a prosecutor many years ago, but it was different from knowing the daily nitty-gritty.
“Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything right now. I have a meeting I can’t reschedule.” She paused and tried to remember who it was with but couldn’t summon the information. “I’m already late.”
“I understand. I’ll call Chuck. Let me know when you know more. Are you working late tonight?”
“I don’t think so. I won’t be assigned this case. I’m too new.”
Who will handle it?
She didn’t envy whoever Gregory chose to lead the case against his daughter’s murderer. She wouldn’t be selected for such a high-profile case so shortly after coming to work at the District Attorney’s Office.
“For some reason, I thought you were running the case.” He let out an obvious sigh of relief. “I can’t tell you how glad I am you aren’t.”
Why can’t it be me?
The feeling didn’t last. Gregory Pope was already a difficult man to work for. She didn’t want to know what it would be like prosecuting his daughter’s murderer.
That was best left to somebody else.
“We’ll talk soon, honey,” she said before disconnecting.