The JOY of Murder – Chapter 3
“China Doll—Dai, I will be forever grateful for this.” Pierce rose and kneeled before her again. “You have no idea how much this means to me. I know my mother didn’t make the best impression when you first met, yet you’re still willing to help me despite that. I am in your debt.”
That was a total understatement. First, the woman had tried to imply Dai’s blindness and country of origin made her less than desirable and completely beneath the Pierce family line. She then added insult to injury by suggesting that Dai’s mother’s charity work was motivated by guilt rather than altruism. Lien’s inner dragon promptly put her back in her place and educated her on several of her misconceptions.
A dimpled smile came and went on Dai’s face; clearly she also recalled the encounter. “Perhaps this will lead to a ‘mending of the fences,’ as they say.” She half-turned in my direction. “Jacques, do get Truman the information for contacting the Thompson and Knight Law Firm.”
I made an acknowledging sound, not trusting myself to speak civilly.
Dai turned back toward the popinjay. “They’ve been quite discreet with our financial dealings and other law-related matters, so they might be an excellent source of assistance. I believe they have extensive experience with criminal law.”
“Thank you,” Pierce said, his relief at Dai’s willingness to visit his mother and try to help obvious as he bounced back to his usual carefree self. “Father normally deals with Jackson Walker, so using a different law firm sounds ideal. Even I’ve heard of Thompson and Knight’s good reputation.”
“Approaching them via a proxy might be your best option,” Dai added. “That way, they won’t connect you with the client.”
That seemed a bit extreme to me, but better safe than sorry.
To my surprise, Pierce appeared taken aback by the suggestion. After a long moment of silence, during which he appeared to take some form of internal inventory, he asked, “Might this, too, be something you would undertake on my behalf?”
Now it was my turn to be shocked. Why ask us? Was there no one in his own circles he could trust? Surely, there had to be someone.
“Jacques sometimes drops papers off there for Father,” Dai said. “He should be able to retain a lawyer for you.”
She turned once more in my direction, brow raised high. “Is there a problem with that, Jacques? Do you not agree this would be the simplest solution? Once counsel is retained, whoever is assigned to the case could come with us to the jail and be present when we speak to Mrs. Pierce.”
Laying at her feet, Prince put his paws over his face. I would get no help from that quarter. “Don’t we then run the risk of our family being associated with the problem?”
Dai grinned. “But I’ll only be there to support you as you visit a friend in trouble. So there shouldn’t be an issue, don’t you agree?”
Pierce barked a laugh, then clamped a hand over his mouth to hold back any further hilarity at my expense. As well he should, since this was his fault, and I’d have enjoyed nothing better at that mment than belting him one. Every time this man entered our lives, it was like letting loose a tornado. “If you say so, Dai.”
She pursed her lips at me but made no comment about my reply. “Truman, if you can gather the retainer, then we’ll move forward. I’m not acquainted with their fees, so erring on the side of caution would probably be best. Bring cash, so the involved parties are harder to trace.”
“You are devilishly devious, China Doll,” Pierce said. “As if I needed more reasons to like you.” The annoying, full-toothed, bright smile was out in force. “I’ve got some dough on me, but I’ll get more from the bank. I should be back in an hour.”
He took Dai’s hand and kissed it before rising to his feet. “Thank you for helping me.”
She shook her head. “It’s what friends do.” Dai stood up as well. “By the time you return, we’ll have booked an appointment at Thompson and Knight, and we will proceed from there. A couple of other telephone calls might also be in order.”
Much more chipper than when he had first come in, Pierce swept into the foyer to retrieve his hat and left.
My mood had dived in the opposite direction, and I doubted it would get better anytime soon. Taking a long, deep breath, I turned toward my companion. “This isn’t wise, Dai.”
“So you’d have me turn my back on a person in need? Desert a friend in trouble?”
I held back a moan of despair. She’d neatly pushed me into a corner, and I could see no way around it. If I said she shouldn’t help, I would be implying she’d made a mistake when she first reached out to me when I had needed assistance all those years ago. “This is not the same.”
“Isn’t it?” Dai tilted her head to the side. “You worry too much, Jacques.”
“Sometimes I don’t think you worry enough, Dai.”
“That’s because I have you to do it for me.” She flashed me a smile. “Besides, until we know what we’re truly dealing with, we can’t begin to calculate whether or not there will be anything to fret about. Don’t you agree?”
It sounded reasonable, but I knew better. The last time I’d heard that excited spark in her voice, she’d clamped onto the challenge and hadn’t let go, regardless of the possible consequences. The popinjay had thrown us into another ‘adventure.’ I just hoped we wouldn’t come to regret it more than I already did.