Chapter 1 “The Last Midnight:

A woman wearing a black robe came out of the side door and stepped up to the bench. She seated herself and scanned the courtroom. Although he was drawn to her, she did not look at him, did not acknowledge him. Patrick Moynihan was the only lawyer present. As always, he’d arrived early.

Something stirred in him when he saw her, a powerful feeling. He was caught unawares, confused by his response, but wanted to know more about her. She was pretty with dark hair and intelligent eyes that scanned the room carefully, yet avoided him; it seemed intentional, an enticement. It caused an awakening of something he’d thought dead, gone forever after his wife was murdered.

Thoughts of female companionship—with her, the judge—began to race through him, bringing to the surface feelings buried in the dark years of mourning and depression. For so many days following his first sight of her there was little else he could think about. All too soon it became a need, and he was pliable, even reckless when she called.

Priscilla Morrison had been a Judge for twelve years when she and Patrick Moynihan began their affair. She was confident in her role on the bench, was fair with all parties. There was nothing in her courtroom demeanor that would give hint to her voracious sexual appetite.

It was near eleven at night when his phone rang. Curiosity overpowered his irritation at the hour of the call.

“Come to me now,” whispered the sultry voice. It was like the call of a Siren luring him out of the safety of his shell. Without a moment’s hesitation he rushed off to her in the nighttime, not a thought of anything other than satisfying the aching hunger driving him to act beyond his tempered reasoning.

She was about his age, he thought, but he could never get her to say. Taller than average, she had long legs and full breasts he so enjoyed. A great kisser, her mouth was exceptional in keeping him aroused. Naked in bed she was truly voluptuous. Treated to the glories of wantonness from a beautiful woman
through feverish and frenzied entwining of their bodies—that which history had proven could drive a man to give up his every secret and power, easily his honor—Patrick surrendered to her completely. It was normal and healthy he told himself so many times. He needed it; she needed it.
Never sure what she thought, especially since most of their time was spent engaged in torrid sex, he’d tried conversation to delve into the personal stuff. Instead of talking, she drove him over the edge again, saying and doing things he’d not experienced before, intensely exciting things, leaving him exhausted and sated.

Although sometimes he felt dirty afterward, soiled from the inside, it had not stopped him from returning whenever she called. She knew exactly what to do to rekindle the fire. Soon it was a nightly event and he couldn’t seem to get enough.

But like all good things, the novelty wore away and his mind began to open to that which he had freely ignored. The gap between comfort and reality was painfully simple. She was the judge presiding over a murder case he was defending, and sleeping with the judge was about as far out of bounds as it could
get, maybe only a notch below sleeping with a juror. It was the inevitable acknowledgement of the violation that necessitated he break it off.

Such as it was in the wee hours of the morning when they had just finished another hard pounding of their bodies, he felt the chasm between them while catching their breath as Priscilla lay back staring at the ceiling, emotionally withdrawn. He thought about the emptiness of their relationship; they had
nothing beyond sex. He’d wanted so much more, someone with whom he could share love. Priscilla did not love him, not even a little. She always made him feel wanted until they were spent. Then he meant nothing to her.

He had waited days and could hold it in no longer. “I can’t do this anymore,” he said as he lay beside her. She turned cold at his words, rolling over onto her side facing away from him, but he could see her in the mirrored doors of the closet. She was waiting for him to come to her. If he reached for her she
would take charge once again and break his resolve. When he didn’t respond to her lure, she reacted with anger and slid out of bed. She gazed admiringly at her own reflection before she turned on him. He had not before known the voice that assaulted him. Standing before him in all her naked glory she shrieked:

“You’re through with me? I’m the one who brought you out of hell, you bastard! No one treats me this way! Get out!”

There was fire in her eyes and promise of vengeance in her voice; her words cut deep and fear welled up in him. He knew that she held power over him and had no idea what she might do now that she was jilted, but he was grateful for the freedom from her clutches, fleeing her home barely clothed carrying what he
could not put on, as though a thief in the night.

Fortunately, immediately after they split Priscilla filed a notice of recusal, and the case was transferred to another courtroom. If not for his best friend and private investigator, Tommy Krumholtz, it might have been worse. Her antics with other lawyers and cops were well kept secrets, even after she had inflicted her own blend of vengeance upon them—but Tommy had always known.

He made it clear to her that she was on stage. The message was as unequivocal as his loyalty to Patrick. His skills in acquiring information were exceptional, beyond that of anything she dared challenge—never put him to the test.

Patrick was embarrassed and humiliated at the end of the affair. Although she did not go public with it there was a rumor mill in every courthouse, and his name could have been run up the vine. He had always protected his reputation vigilantly, irreproachable until Priscilla.

When she came into his world everything changed as he surrendered to the passion of his primal urge. After Priscilla, he found himself having to piece together a life without love, once again. He tried to accept that he had been incapable of introspection before their encounters became routine and her façade fell away.

Dwelling on his disastrous attempt at companionship, he wanted to run away from it all. He could leave, but that was not part of his routine. Embracing strict rules of personal conduct was the only way he had been able to continue after Rebecca’s death. His time with Priscilla resulted in a significant breach of his code. A shiver of regret passed through him. Still torn at the heart, he fell into the darkness of despair.