When Fawn smiled in relief and start to thank her, Fredericka felt honor-bound to warn her uneasily, “But are you sure you don’t want to watch it first?”
The smile faded. “No.”
“It’s not a happy video.”
The girl touched her bandaged face, saying humorously, “I know.”
Fredericka cringed. “Sorry.” Shit, shit, shit, this was why she was better off interrogating serial killers.
“It’s okay,” Fawn hastened to assure the older woman. “I really don’t mind.”
Fredericka shook her head, muttering, “I just really think you should watch it first. Your doctor informed me that trauma’s made you forget most of the ordeal, which I suppose is a good thing, but—-”
“It is a good thing,” Fawn said quietly, “and I want it—-” Fawn’s voice faltered.
Her heart started to squeeze.
Why, why, why did her heart keep hurting every time she almost remembered what happened?
Could she have perhaps…fallen in love with her abductor in a matter of hours? Could she have done something so shameful that it would break her heart to remember?
“Ms. Cornwall?” Fredericka asked worriedly, noting the younger woman’s sudden pallor.
The pain disappeared.
Fawn forced a smile. “Just please…please do your best to make sure he c-comes, and that’s enough.”
When a slight commotion erupted behind Nick and Jason Christakos, the twins turned around simultaneously in time to see Reid Chalkias enter the courtroom.
Dressed in a crisp black suit and his rather famous green eyes covered by dark glasses, the prince walked straight to the front, taking a seat on the first row beside his friends.
“Thanks for coming,” Nick murmured under his breath, shaking hands with Reid.
“We appreciate it a lot,” Jason said quietly.
The prince only nodded, unwilling to lie. If Fawn hadn’t made the submission of her testimony conditional on his presence in court, he wouldn’t have come at all.
The hearing began after a minute, and the Christakos twins’ young but fiery redheaded lawyer made her opening salvo against Abraxas Davos. The Greek tycoon’s terse expression didn’t change throughout Fredericka’s speech, not even when she began talking about Fawn.
Fighting to keep his own face expressionless, the prince clenched and unclenched his fist as he struggled against the impulse to sink his fist in the older man’s face.
The attorney’s introduction of Fawn was brief but succinct, emphasizing on Fawn’s numerous positive qualities, before moving on to an explanation of her witness’ relevance to the case.
After summarizing the events revolving around Fawn’s abduction and subsequent rescue, Fredericka said quietly, “I shudder to think what kind of character could orchestrate such an attack—-” The attorney turned to Davos as she spoke. “—-and against someone like Fawn, whose only involvement in the case lies on her innocent decision to love Reid Chalkias.”
The prince’s lips tightened.
“Following the rescue, a subsequent investigation revealed that Ms. Cornwall’s abduction was being remotely viewed and recorded.”
A video…was made of her torture? The prince had heard nothing of this at all, and he looked at Derek, demanding grimly, “Do any of you know of this?”
Before Derek could answer, the prince saw Nick drop a note behind him without turning around. Picking it up, he unfolded the note and read the hastily scrawled note.
I’m sorry. We only learned of this last night, and Fawn swore us to silence.
“This is the sworn statement from Ms. Cornwall—-”
An objection was made and overruled.
“As shown by the projector, Ms. Cornwall states that the video had been taken without her knowledge. She’s also given her express permission for the video to be played in this courtroom.”
A quick press of a button had the display show the next slide, and the attorney’s light gray eyes settled on the prince as she murmured, “The slide you see now is the diagnosis submitted by Ms. Cornwall’s physician, and the long and short of the matter is, Dr. Robbins believe that her inability to recall almost any detail regarding her ordeal is due to severe trauma. Upon our procurement of this video, we have asked Ms. Cornwall if she wished to view the content.” Fredericka paused. “Ms. Cornwall declined.”
The digital display on the white screen showed the next slide, and numbers showed up on the screen, patterned like an incomplete Sudoku puzzle.
2 6 3
“These numbers will make sense later on, in a way that I wish it wouldn’t.”
The attorney clicked on her pointer, and the numerical puzzle shrunk into an inlaid screen.
She clicked again, and a video took up the rest of the display, its cover showing Fawn tied to a chair, her eyes blackened, and what they could see of her body was colored with bruises. Her hands were bound behind her back while her legs were strapped together with ropes wound tightly around her ankles.
Murmurs and gasps rose from the crowd, and the blood leeched from the prince’s face as he stared at the woman he loved.
How the fuck could anyone do this to Fawn?