The Sisterhood: a group of women from all walks of life bound by friendship and a quest for justice. Armed with vast resources, top-notch expertise, and a loyal network of allies around the globe, the Sisterhood will not rest until every wrong is made right.
The women of the Sisterhood are fun, smart, sassy, and determined to get their way every time. But most of all, they are the best friends a woman wants by her side in good times and bad. Meeting once again in Myra Rutledge’s beautiful Virginia home, they’re ready to face a new challenge and right a vicious wrong . . .
Alexis Thorn, once a successful securities broker, spent a hellish year behind bars for a crime she never committed. Now she has her freedom, but she’s left with haunting memories of being hauled from her office in handcuffs . . . of the cell door clanging shut behind her . . . of her pleas going unheard. Meanwhile the real criminals—her former employers, Roland Sullivan and his lover Arden Gillespie—continue to make millions by conning the innocent, especially preying on the elderly and taking their life savings. Alexis dreams of getting even. The legal system failed her, but the Sisterhood won’t. They have a delicious plan that can give Sullivan and Gillespie a taste of their own bitter medicine . . .
Praise for Fern Michaels and her Sisterhood novels
“Michaels listens to fans and delivers one hell of a punch.”—RT Book Reviews on Double Down
“Delectable . . . Revenge that’s creatively swift and sweet, Michaels-style.”—Publishers Weekly on Hokus Pokus
About the Author
FERN MICHAELS is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Sisterhood, Men of the Sisterhood, and Godmothers series, as well as dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over one-hundred ten million copies of her books in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is a passionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret. Visit her website at www.fernmichaels.com.
Hometown:Summerville, South Carolina
Place of Birth:Hastings, Pennsylvania
Read an Excerpt
By Fern Michaels
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2006 Fern Michaels
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMaggie Spritzer sat at her desk staring at her blank computer screen. She'd been sitting here ever since she returned from Pinewood at two o'clock. She looked at her watch, stunned that a whole hour had gone by. She was aware of Ted's eyes at full bore on her back. Sometimes Ted could be tiresome. She thought about all the promises she'd made to Ted about sharing, about maybe getting married. Her stomach started to churn. She didn't want to share. That was her bottom line. Her motto had always been "what's mine is mine and what's yours is ours." Ted didn't see it that way. Right now, she realized, she had enough togetherness to last her into the next century. How she was going to break it to Ted was something she didn't want to think about right now.
Ever since that night in the cemetery when they had the ladies of Pinewood in their cross hairs, only to be rendered useless by some guy's taser, things had been different between them. Ted blamed her for getting tasered, if there was such a word, and she blamed him.
No one, and that included Ted, would ever convince her that the man at the cemetery who felled them wasn't Jack Emery. Ted said it was impossible. Said he knew where Emery was that night and it wasn't at the cemetery. Guys always stuck together. It had to be Emery and not Bobby Harcourt, as Ted suggested.
Maggie drummed nervous fingers onthe desk top. She needed to do something and she needed to do it quickly before Ted got an edge on her. Her gut told her she had the inside track on a Pulitzer if she could get something concrete on those upscale ladies. Maybe it was time to be bold and brazen and head out to Pinewood and confront the ladies. Woman to woman.
Her fingers continued their mad dance on the scarred desk top. Better yet, maybe a one-on-one. But the only one she could get close to would be Isabelle Flanders. The truck driver and the personal shopper were too elusive. She had a chance with the Asian woman if she went to her nursery but she hadn't been at the cemetery that night. Any one-on-one meeting had to be with one of the women who had actually been there. Then again, maybe she should schedule an appointment with Nikki Quinn at her law offices.
She really wanted a Pulitzer.
Right now, though, she had to figure out a way to outwit Ted. She wondered if he'd lied to her when he said that after the ladies of Pinewood did their dirty work, they took a hiatus and didn't group up again for several months. He said they took time off to rest on their laurels. Fact or fiction? What she did know was that the women had all met up at noon. Her gut instinct told her they were gearing up for another caper. She felt a little envious, almost wishing she was part of that team. Almost.
Maggie thought she would feel guilty at not sharing everything with Ted but surprisingly, it didn't bother her at all. She must not be a nice person even though Ted thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. She remembered when she'd first started to work at the Post and thirty-year veteran curmudgeon Adele Matthews had given her a piece of sage advice: never trust a male reporter, never go with a dual by-line, especially with a male, and always look out for number one because no one else will. And, whatever you do, never forget that your ultimate goal is a Pulitzer.
Maggie got up from her desk, slipped into her light spring jacket, her thoughts on her really big secret, the small handheld recorder she'd used that night at the cemetery. She knew Ted had one, too, but at the last second, when he was occupied with something else, she'd removed the miniature cassette. She'd never told him she had one, too, in her pocket. She had the goods on the gals but she couldn't use it. Not yet.
Maggie tried to work some animation into her facial features. Her voice was short of a trill when she reached Ted's desk. "Hello there, sweet cheeks. How's it going today?"
Ted's eyes narrowed. She was up to something. He could smell her deviousness. He felt like giving her a good swat. He decided to be cagey. The only problem was, Jack Emery never got around to telling him how to do that. Being cagey was probably an addendum to Getting to Know and Understand Women 101.
"Well, it's going. Slow day in the world. I just got in about an hour ago. Gotta take the last shuttle to New York tonight. Big doings at the UN tomorrow. What's the local gossip?" If this was being cagey, he needed a refresher course. Maggie just looked smug. The urge to swat her was so strong he had to fight with himself not to pop her square on her cute little nose. Cute my ass. She was a barracuda out for a kill and he knew he was in her sights. He struggled for nonchalance by tilting back in his swivel chair. There was no way in hell he was going to ask her if she wanted to grab a quick bite.
"Want to get some early dinner? I'm free," Maggie said.
Ted couldn't believe his own ears when he said, "No thanks."
Maggie's eyes narrowed. This was a first. He'd actually turned her down. "I'm buying," she smiled.
"Sorry, no can do."
Maggie huffed and puffed and made a production out of buttoning her jacket. "Okay, guess I'll see you when you get back. When will that be?"
Jack Emery's words about "play hard to get once in a while" rang in his ears. He shrugged. "Not sure. I have a job interview at the Times. I'm there so why the hell not."
Maggie gaped, her jaw dropping. "You're leaving! Why? You never said a word to me about that. I thought we were a team. If I hadn't asked you, when were you going to tell me?"
Ted shrugged again. Maybe old Jack was onto something. Maggie looked ... pissed. He wondered exactly what that meant. That maybe she really did care? Or, she was just pissed at being left out of the loop. More likely the latter. "Where is it written that I have to tell you everything? We both know you don't tell me everything. I suppose I would have gotten around to telling you when and if I got the job, which is unlikely. I don't like jinxing myself."
Maggie switched gears. She decided sweet was the way to go. "If it's what you want, I hope you get it. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Remember now, I have first dibs on you, so don't go getting cozy with any of those glitzy New York reporters."
Ted let the chair hit the floor. He swivelled around, his eyes cold and hard. "You took the tape out of my recorder that night at the cemetery, didn't you?
Maggie did her best to look outraged. "Is that what this is all about? How dare you accuse me of such a dastardly thing, Ted! How dare you! It's not my fault that you get sloppy sometime. I'm not your keeper, I can't oversee your every movement. You forgot in the excitement of the evening. Admit it."
"You know what, Maggie, I knew you'd say what you just said. You aren't the person I thought you were. I think we should go our separate ways. I'd like my key back. Since you never saw fit to give me a key to your pad, I have nothing to give back."
She didn't hear what she just heard, did she? Suddenly she felt sick to her stomach. "You're dumping me! Because you forgot to put a cassette in your recorder! Well, here you go, hot shot," Maggie said as she ripped his key off her keyring. She tossed it on the metal desk. "You know what else, you aren't the person I thought you were either. From now on, get your own coffee and doughnuts in the morning. Don't call me either."
Maggie's eyes were filling with tears. She turned and ran from the news room. God, what if that old curmudgeon, Adele, was wrong?
Outside in the late afternoon sunshine, Maggie let the tears flow. "He dumped me! He just ... he just cast me aside like an old shoe." She climbed in her car when she realized she'd been screaming and people were staring at her. "Well, screw you, Ted Robinson."
Inside the news room, Ted opened his backpack and fished around until he found what he was looking for. Two days ago he'd picked the lock on Maggie's apartment so he could search it. He'd found the tiny cassette in her Tampon box. He'd felt like a thief, which he was, when he copied the tape before he stuck the cassette in his pocket. The tape was very poor quality, the voices indistinguishable.
Ted felt like he was a hundred years old when he trudged his way to his boss's office. "Can you put this in your safe for now?" He tossed a small sealed yellow envelope across the desk. His step was a little lighter when he walked back to his desk, grabbed his backpack, slipped it on, and left the news room.
Sometimes life was a bitch.
Maggie let herself into her apartment and was immediately welcomed with sharp barks and wet kisses from Daisy. She reached for the leash, hooked it onto the dog's collar and took the stairs back down to the first floor. She walked the dog for a full hour before she headed out to the boulevard to pick up some Chinese food for her dinner.
Back in the apartment, Maggie made a production out of changing her clothes, feeding Daisy, going through her mail, making coffee before she tackled the dinner she really didn't want. Dumped. Ted had told her to get out of his life. Well, what did she expect. She'd betrayed her partner, the man who'd asked her to marry him. Tears dripped into her shrimp chow mein. Finally, she shoved the cardboard container across the table.
Swiping at her tears, Maggie headed for the bathroom and her Tampon box. Her fingers fumbled around at the bottom until she was able to grasp the tiny cassette. She carried it into the bedroom and slipped it into the mini recorder. She hit Play and waited. And waited. All she could hear were smatterings of words, lots of static, the rain and more static. She opened the recorder and turned the tape over to the other side. All she could hear was a soft whirring sound. Ted had outsmarted her.
"You bastard! You stinking bastard! You stole my tape!"
Ted arrived home in a foul mood. Even Mickey and Minnie couldn't make him smile. He headed straight for the kitchen where he picked up the phone, hit the speed dial, popped a Michelob and said, "Espinosa, Ted Robinson. Look, I need you to take my place tonight. You're taking the last shuttle to New York to cover the UN thing in the morning. I'm going to fax you the itinerary right now. Just sign in at the ticket counter. Your name is on the roster. What do you mean, why are you going? You're going because I said you're going. The old man doesn't care who goes as long as the story gets covered. I'm senior to your junior. No, no, I don't owe you anything. It's your job. Wait for the fax."
Ted slugged at his beer as he trooped down the hall to his computer room. He yanked the itinerary out of his backpack and faxed it off to Jesus Espinosa.
Back in the kitchen, Ted opened the refrigerator, knowing there was nothing in it but orange juice, milk, and three wilted apples. No magic fairy had done the grocery shopping while he was at work. He did, however, have boxed macaroni and cheese. He made two boxes, chowed down, and then fed the hissing snarling cats. So what if he missed a few food groups. Then he watched the early evening news as he waited for it to get dark.
At seven-thirty, Ted changed his clothes to an all-black outfit, got in his car and headed for Pinewood. His reporter's nose had been twitching for two days now. He had to pay attention. The nose twitch, he told himself over and over, had nothing to do with Maggie Spritzer. He wondered if Jack Emery would be proud of him. Jack had warned him early on, dump them before they dump you. That way you get to keep your ego. You get to see her cry. Better she should cry than you, a grown man. Jack just didn't say how much the betrayal was going to hurt. Smart ass Jack Emery. "I hate your fucking guts, you district attorney. Another thing, you asshole, don't think for one minute you fooled me out there at that cemetery. I know that was you. You aided and abetted those women. I got you on tape, you son of a bitch." Ted hated it when he talked out loud to himself. What he hated even more was when he answered himself. He continued talking to himself as his car ate up the miles. Before he knew it, he was a mile from the entrance to Pinewood. He parked his car on a wide shoulder of the road, got out and hiked the rest of the way to the security gates that led to the private compound. He was pulling out his night binoculars when he felt the fine hairs on the back of his neck move. He didn't stop to think; he made a mad dive into the bushes, clamped his hand over his mouth and lay still. Maggie? Charles Martin's private cops, the ones with the special gold shields? Jack? Maybe a wild animal and maybe none of the above. He lay quietly until he felt something crawl up his leg. A rat? He shook his leg and felt rather than saw something fly to the side. Yes, a rat. God, how he hated vermin.
Ted listened to the quiet spring night as he crept forward, the binoculars at his eyes. Aha! His twitching nose was right on target. All the ladies appeared to be in residence, even the big rig was there.
So, the ladies of Pinewood were getting ready to kick some ass. Yee Haw!
Chapter TwoThe ladies of Pinewood were having cocktails on the terrace, much to Myra's delight. She truly enjoyed seeing "her girls" and watching them interact with one another. These days they were like an extended family. It wasn't that way in the beginning, though. Back when she'd formed the Sisterhood the young women had been hostile, suspicious, afraid to open up to one another. She hoped she was at least a small part of their blossoming, as she liked to call it.
The girls were doing what Charles called kibitizing. Myra let her mind drift as she listened to them, to the birds singing in the trees, to Kathryn's dog Murphy and Alexis's dog Grady barking and chasing each other around the yard.
"I bought this racy looking dress," Yoko said. "I have nowhere to wear it."
Frugal, ever practical Kathryn said, "Then why did you buy it? How much was it? What color?"
"In case. I'm not telling you how much it was because you'll say I should have put the money in the bank for a rainy day. I never go anywhere on rainy days. The dress will get ruined in the rain because it's silk. It's sky blue."
Kathryn grinned. "Forget it. We have a language problem here. You don't wear the dress on a rainy day because you didn't buy the dress. Instead of buying the dress you put the money in the bank."
Yoko looked perplexed. "Then I would have no dress, in case."
Alexis jumped into the fray. "Hold on here. Is there a man somewhere in regard to this dress?"
Yoko tried to look demure. "In a manner of speaking. I was shopping in the Asian market and met a ... person there. This person was buying some of the same things I was buying. He looked at me with ... with ..."
"Lust?" Isabelle laughed.
"Did you get a name, a phone number?"
Yoko turned pink. "No, but he wanted mine. I didn't give it up." She eyed Kathryn and said, "I'm not easy. But ..." Her eyes grew round. "The clerk called me when I got home and told me the man asked for my address. She gave me his name. She said he was an important man. She gave it up because she said it was time for me to ... you know ..."
"Hop in the sack," Isabelle said, finishing Yoko's sentence for a second time. The women burst out laughing, even Myra and Yoko herself.
"So, who is he?" Nikki asked.
"He's not ... pretty."
"You mean handsome. Men are handsome, women are pretty," Kathryn said.
"Okay, hand-some. His name is Harry Wong. He teaches martial arts to police officers."
Nikki was glad there was nothing in her hands or she would have dropped it. Harry Wong was Jack's friend. Unless there were two Harry Wongs who taught martial arts to police officers.
Kathryn leaned forward. "And this clerk at the Asian market just gave you all this info ... because ..."
"I grilled her," Yoko said smartly. "I could probably teach him a thing or two. He has a dojo downtown."
"This is so exciting," Myra said. "Let me guess. You are going to go to the dojo and pretend you want to take lessons. It will be a chance encounter, that kind of thing. I think that's what I would do."
Excerpted from Lethal Justice by Fern Michaels Copyright © 2006 by Fern Michaels. Excerpted by permission.
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