It was a murder made for TV: a trail of tiny bloody footprints. An innocent toddler playing beside her mother's bludgeoned body. Pretty young Corinne Wolff, seven months pregnant, brutally murdered in her own home.
Cameras and questions don't usually faze Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson, but the media frenzy surrounding the Wolff case is particularly nasty...and thorough. When the seemingly model mommy is linked to an amateur porn Web site with underage actresses and unwitting players, the sharks begin to circle.
The shock is magnified when an old adversary uses the sexy secret footage to implicate Taylor in a murder--an accusation that threatens her career, her reputation and her relationship.
Both cases hinge on the evidence--real or manufactured--of crimes that go beyond passion, into the realm of obsessive vengeance and shocking betrayal. Just what the networks love.
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Michelle Harris sat at the stoplight on Old Hickory and Highway 100, grinding her teeth. She was late. Corinne hated when she was late. She wouldn't bitch at her, wouldn't chastise her, would just glance at the clock on the stove, the digital readout that always, always ran three minutes ahead of time so Corinne could have a cushion, and a little line would appear between her perfectly groomed eyebrows.
Their match was in an hour. They had plenty of time, but Corinne would need to drop Hayden at the nursery and have a protein smoothie before stretching in preparation for their game. Michelle and Corinne had been partners in tennis doubles for ages, and they were two matches from taking it all. Their yearly run at the Richland club championship was almost a foregone conclusion; they'd won seven years in a row.
Tapping the fingers of her right hand on the wheel, she used her left to pull her ponytail around the curve of her neck, a comfort gesture she'd adopted in childhood. Corinne hadn't needed any comfort. She was always the strong one. Even as a young child, when Michelle pulled that ponytail around her neck, the unruly curls winding around her ear, Corinne would get that little line between her brows to show her displeasure at her elder sister's weakness.
Remembering, Michelle flipped the hair back over her shoulder with disgust. The light turned green and she gunned it, foot hard on the pedal. She hated being late for Corinne.
Michelle took the turn off Jocelyn Hollow Road and followed the sedate, meandering asphalt into her sister's cul-de-sac. The dogwood tree in the Wolffs' front yard was just beginning to bud. Michelle smiled. Spring was coming. Nashville had been in the grip of a difficult winter for months, but at last the frigid clutch showed signs of breaking. New life stirred at the edges of the forests, calves were dropping in the fields. The chirping of the wrens and cardinals had taken on a higher pitch, avian mommies and daddies awaiting the arrival of their young. Corinne herself was ripe with a new life, seven months into an easy pregnancy--barely looking four months along. Her activity level kept the usual baby weight off, and she was determined to play tennis up to the birth, just like she'd done with Hayden.
Not fair. Michelle didn't have any children, didn't have a husband for that matter. She just hadn't met the right guy. The consolation was Hayden. With a niece as adorable and precocious as hers, she didn't need her own child. Not just yet.
She pulled into the Wolffs' maple-lined driveway and cut the engine on her Volvo. Corinne's black BMW 535i sat in front of the garage door. The wrought iron lantern lights that flanked the front doors were on. Michelle frowned. It wasn't like Corinne to forget to turn those lights off. She remembered the argument Corinne and Todd, her husband, had gotten into about them. Todd wanted the kind that came on at dark and went off in the morning automatically. Corinne insisted they could turn the switch themselves with no problem. They'd gone back and forth, Todd arguing for the security, Corinne insisting that the look of the dusk-to-dawns were cheesy and wouldn't fit their home. She'd won, in the end. She always did.
Corinne always turned off the lights first thing in the morning. Like clockwork.
The hair rose on the back of Michelle's neck. This wasn't right.
She stepped out of the Volvo, didn't shut the door all the way behind her. The path to her sister's front door was a brick loggia pattern, the nooks and crannies filled with sand to anchor the Chilhowies. Ridiculously expensive designer brick from a tiny centuries-old sandpit in...
By: J.T. Ellison