Frank Cardo’s father owned his town, employing 50 people at a prestigious law firm in Caul City. Most people looked up to Gerald. Frank always felt the loftiness of his parents when he walked the halls of Cardo, Bentley, and Kramer, Attorneys at Law.

His father had a large office in the back of the building where Frank would visit after school. His mother worked at the firm, too, her office next to his father’s. She was the Bentley part of the partnership, retaining her maiden name.

Frank was a surprise to his parents. The Cardo/Bentley union had not planned on having a child when Frank appeared in their fifth year of marriage. The Cardo/Bentleys had someone to carry on the family business. As a youngster, Frank would follow his father as he walked the halls of the firm. His dad would say, “Frank, someday, my kingdom will all be yours,” with a broad sweep of his hand. Of course, Frank knew that it meant he would have to become a lawyer to inherit that kingdom. A path had been chosen for him. It was a very narrow path, indeed. Frank’s mother assured him he could do whatever he wanted with his life. Frank knew by the tone of her voice that he didn’t have to be an attorney, she was saying what he wanted to hear, and didn’t mean what she was saying.

Frank became a lawyer. He wasn’t the best student in his graduating class, but he did impressively, ranking 25th in over three hundred students. He passed the bar exam on the first try and was hired at the firm, much to the chagrin of long-time employees.

Distinguishing himself early on, Frank started to win minor cases and was moved to more publicized ones. The law firm was receiving an excellent reputation every time they had a win. Frank was cutting his teeth on the low-paid, high visual criminal cases the firm was doing gratis. He loved those. Some of the cops had gotten mighty sloppy lately. It was easier for them to go to a person with a reputation and convince a jury his client was guilty than to do some good old-fashioned detective work. Plus, it got the troublemakers off the street and sent a message to the others: Caul City doesn’t play, you will be put away.

Video cameras were Frank’s friend. He used them to show his client was at a bar the same time the police said his client had killed a man. The cops needed to tighten their game when it came to Frank Cardo’s pro bono work.

As the years went by, Frank moved out of pro bono and into his own office. He was sure he would inherit his father’s corner office and he was on track to do so.

Greg Kramer, the third partner at the firm, stayed for the prestige, which is what Frank figured. Greg had sold a chunk of his partnership out when Barbara Bentley bought into the firm. His name moved down on the door. He would never have sold if it wasn’t for his gambling debts. Greg had a history of office assistants who transferred as soon as a vacancy opened somewhere else within the firm. He had to break in a new assistant every few weeks. There were rumors, of course, but no one came forward pointing fingers. Greg Kramer was a hard man to work with, and he liked to chase the skirts.

A paralegal, Faith Newberry, caught Frank’s eye. She was bright, quick-witted, and determined. He fell hard for her, even asked Faith to marry him. She said she would, but only after she got her law degree. Faith used to be a detective for the Caul City Police department. After being beaten up in court, she decided she needed to get on the other side of the law.

Faith met Frank after work. They went to dinner at Squisito’s. While they dined, Frank grilled her on case law studies. Faith wanted to be a criminal lawyer, and she seemed to have all the right answers. He told her she would do great on the bar exam. They spent the night together at her apartment.

Faith left for the office early the next morning. Frank followed later.

They did not want staff to think there was anything inappropriate going on between the two of them. Their engagement was kept quiet.

Frank stayed late at the office that evening. Nearly everyone had gone home. There was a knock at his door. It was Faith. She was crying.

“I didn’t know if you were alone,” she sobbed, falling into his arms.

“What happened?” Frank pulled her into his office. Greg Kramer, the bastard. Frank felt anger build in him like a pot-bellied stove that had just been stoked.

“I’m going to…”

“Frank, no,” Faith begged, “I can’t believe I let it happen. I am so ashamed. I don’t want anyone to know.” He could see the bruises on her wrist.

“You did nothing wrong,” Frank told her. He was angry, but a part of him secretly relieved. There was the matter of the company’s reputation. How much did his parents know of Greg’s escapades?

He vowed to find a way to get rid of Kramer. Frank offered to take Faith to the hospital just in case she changed her mind and wanted to press charges later. She said no. He promised Faith he would get rid of Kramer with the threat of going public. Faith begged him not to do that. Frank assured her that he wasn’t going to do anything, only bluff the man; he would tell no one without her permission. He drove Faith home and came back for Kramer, who happened to be in his office.

“How dare you, you bastard.” Kramer was seated behind his desk, a bottle of scotch in front of him. Frank picked up the bottle and shook it in his face.

“This stuff makes you stupid, Greg. It’s the drink that has you thinking you can get away with anything!”

“What are you talking about, Frank?” Kramer stood up. Frank pushed him back into his chair. A look of fright passed Greg Kramer’s eyes when he realized the magnitude of Frank’s anger.

“You attacked an employee tonight, Greg. We can no longer look the other way. You need to pack your bags and leave immediately; otherwise, this firm is going to the police and the public.”

“You wouldn’t dare; the bad publicity would kill the law office, and you know it. I’ll pay her off. Don’t worry about it. She’s just another law student.” He flapped his hand in Frank’s direction.

“Don’t you contact her; there’s no more pay off. You need to go away. Retire. Now!” Frank accentuated each word he said with a poke in Greg’s chest. Frank slammed the door behind him. There were rumors before, but now Frank knew someone personally affected by Kramer’s philandering. Faith didn’t deserve that. The firm should have found a way to protect the women in their employ.

Frank called Faith when he got home, hoping to talk with her; she must have gone to bed early because no one answered. He left a message telling her that he loved her and would talk whenever she needed to call him, even if it was tonight.

He paced back and forth. He couldn’t take it anymore. He left his apartment, finding himself going up the elevator at the firm. Greg’s light was still on. Frank was going to remove the drunk from the office physically. He wanted to prove his point, and he wanted to hurt Gregory Kramer.

Frank rapped on the door, opening it. He was not going to wait for an answer. Stepping into the office, he stopped short.

Greg was on the floor, a wound to his head leaking onto the carpeting, a pistol not far from his hand. Suicide? His eyes went to the note on the desk. He quickly left the office and went home.

Frank tried calling Faith again, but there was no answer. Frustrated, he took a sleeping pill and was finally able to go to sleep. Someone would find Greg tomorrow. Maybe he should have called the cops; that was the last thought in his mind when the pill kicked in.

He felt a surge of regret toward Greg Kramer when he woke the next morning. He should have checked to see if the man was alive, he could have called an ambulance;, but part of him was glad; he stood to inherit Greg’s office, part of the kingdom.

He called Faith; still no answer. She’d probably left for work already. When he arrived, there was an ambulance in front of the building.

“What happened?” he asked when he walked into the office, knowing full well what happened.

“It’s Mr. Kramer,” said the receptionist. “He’s been found dead.” Frank pretended to be shocked.

“How? What happened?” Miss Dalgney shrugged her shoulders.

“Marcy walked in to give him his cases for the day. He was on the floor. Marcy said there was a gun, and it looked like he had shot himself.” Frank saw the replay of the scene from last night playing before him. He felt guilty; had he driven Greg to kill himself with his threat to go public? Should he tell the police about his threat to Greg or keep his promise to Faith?

Frank remembered the look on Faith’s face as she begged him not to tell anyone about what happened. He wouldn’t tell anyone anything until he talked to her first.

Frank thanked the receptionist and continued to his office, passing the yellow caution tape over Greg’s door. His door now. His mind filled with thoughts of how he could get the stains out of the carpet. Perhaps new carpeting was in order given the circumstances.

A few minutes after he sat down, the knock on his door brought in a detective.

“Mr. Cardo, would you mind answering some questions?”

“Of course, what can I do for you?”

“Did you see Mr. Kramer last night?”

“Yes, I stopped in to talk to him about a case I was working on.”

“What time was that?”

“Oh, about 7:00 p.m., I came back after dinner.” The officer wrote the information down on a small paper pad.

“What would you say his mood was at the time?”

“He had a drink or two in him. He seemed tense. I didn’t stay long.”

“Can you think of anyone who might want to kill him? Do you think he was murdered? We are looking at all possibilities.”

“Greg Kramer was a highly regarded attorney. No, I can’t think of anyone who would want to kill him.” When the officer finished his questions, he left Frank, who desperately wanted to make himself a drink, but it was ten in the morning. He called Faith’s extension.

“Hey, are you alright?” Faith remained silent at first and then responded.

“What do you mean?”

“Kramer, did he kill himself? Or did someone off him?”

“Who is this?” Holy shit! Frank put the phone down. He was sure he dialed Faith’s extension. Frank wouldn’t risk it again. He would walk down to her office. He grabbed a couple of files to make it look as if he were on official business. The receptionist was busy canceling that day’s appointments. The cops meant business. It wouldn’t do to have clients come in and mess with the crime scene.

Frank walked past Faith’s office. Someone was sitting at her desk, and it wasn’t Faith. He got the heebee jeebees thinking he probably called the policewoman; he saw the badge on a lanyard around her neck. He tried to remember just what he said to the woman; was it damaging to either of them? He knew that his extension would have shown up on the phone’s screen, so Frank wasn’t fooling anyone. He knocked on the door. The detective invited him in.

“Forgive me. I called my fiancée; I did not know you were at her desk. That was unprofessional of me.”

“Faith Newberry is your fiancée?”

“Yes. No one at the firm knows; we keep it quiet so as not to distract the staff. Do you know where Faith is? She’s not answered her phone this morning.”

“No, Mr. Cardo, I do not.” Frank thanked her and walked back to his office. He called Faith’s cell again; it went to voicemail. Where the hell was she?

The day was shot. He couldn’t think or work. The coroner’s office hauled Greg away.

Frank decided he was going to leave for the day. There was too much disruption with the police there, and everyone was on edge. He was going to find Faith. He didn’t know if she knew about Kramer or not. There was a knock on his door again.

Faith! He thought as he answered the door, surprised at seeing the same detective.

“Mr. Cardo? You have the right to remain silent.” The cop was reading Frank his Miranda rights.

“Wait a minute, what’s going on?”

“Mr. Cardo, you are being arrested for the murder of Greg Kramer.”

“What? You’re wrong! I didn’t murder anyone!”

“Don’t say anything, son,” his mother warned him from the doorway.


Faith sat on the couch; her legs pulled up with a blanket tucked around them. She felt terrible. Things didn’t go as planned. Last night, she went back to the firm. Greg Kramer was drunk. He had his head on the desk. She found the gun he bragged about in the upper left drawer of his desk. The one he brandished last night before he attacked her.

Faith pointed the gun at Greg’s right temple. She had already written the suicide note.

“Just sign it, Gregory.” Greg was so drunk he signed it. He was so compliant. Faith lifted fingerprints off the scotch bottle on Greg’s desk with a piece of scotch tape. She put the tape on her finger with the print facing the outside, then she pulled the trigger on the pistol. The bullet entered Kramer’s right temple. She made it look like he had committed suicide. Greg fell out of the chair. Faith walked around the desk, placing the gun near Kramer’s right hand.

Kramer wasn’t going to get away with what he’d done to her tonight—or to anyone else—ever again. Faith had been to enough crime scenes as a detective to stage the suicide. It would be an open and shut case.

When Carrie Dalgney called her this morning and told her they had arrested Frank for the murder of Greg Kramer, Faith could hardly believe what she was hearing. She had staged it perfectly for suicide, down to the note. How could things have gotten so screwed up?

Faith didn’t know that the fresh prints she lifted off the scotch bottle weren’t Kramer’s; they were Frank’s.

She dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. Faith couldn’t come forward. She didn’t want to go to jail for life.

The videos showed Frank leaving a little after 7 p.m., as he initially told the police. They also confirmed Frank had come back at 9:30 that night and stayed long enough to shoot Gregory Kramer. The detective on the case had been burned by Frank’s videos years ago and was made to look a fool. Now the same detective was using Frank’s video evidence to prove his case.

Frank was found guilty of murder; his parents were inconsolable. Faith was there helping them through the crisis, as any good fiancée would be.


“We’ve changed our will,” Gerald and Barbara told her.

“What are you saying?” Faith was confused. She had worked for the firm for several years now, moving up the ladder while she dutifully visited Frank at the state prison each week.

Faith felt guilty, but not enough to trade places with Frank.

“Barbara and I are so grateful for what you have done for our son. We would like to give the firm to you. It would have been Frank’s, but now, well, you know. We talked with Frank, we know what Kramer did to you, and we feel bad we didn’t get rid of him. We didn’t protect you, Faith. If we had, Frank would never have had any reason to kill Greg. We are sorry. The only way we can forgive ourselves is to do this.”

“Here, we are making you a partner,” Gerald said. He handed Faith the keys to his kingdom. “Cardo, Bentley, and Newberry.” Faith broke down in tears, but she took the keys.