My lawyer paces in front of the courtroom, clearly passionate in his defense of me. A good thing as far as defenses go, but I’m not really sure why he’s so invested, considering he’s only a public defender. They aren’t known for being well paid in exchange for their toils.
“Your honor, I ask that you consider granting some leniency here. My client has had a very difficult childhood, with more hard knocks than any kid should be forced to endure. She’s had no real role models or examples, no steady forces in her life. It’s understandable that she has found herself in the position she’s in right now, but I believe we have an opportunity here to give her a chance make better choices from here on out, and to prove herself to be a contributing member of society.”
The judge steeples his fingers together and stares down over the top of his glasses, pursing his lips and studying me.
I resistan urge to slide down deeper in my seat or tilt my face forward and hide behind my curtain of hair. He’s the sort who makes you feel about 5 years old with just a look. Which I guess is good if you’re a judge, but it’s not exactly comfortable when you’re not.
Instead I remain sitting tall, keeping my shoulders straight and my head back. I can’t help the tiny lift of my chin, revealing my detrimental stubborn streak that always seems to get me into hot water. Itdoesn’t seem to be failing me this time.
The judge rumbles, his voice stern with a slight rasp to it. I idly wonder if he’s a smoker. Nah. Too straight-laced.
“Young lady, you have been charged and found guilty of Possession with Intent to Distribute. This is a very serious crime. Do you understand the nature of the position you have put yourself in?” I swallow, then nod my head. “Yes sir, I understand.” I meet his gaze squarely, trying my best to hide the flash of anger and indignation that rises when I hear his words. That “I” put myself in. I stifle a snort.
The judge drops his hands down to his podium with a sigh, staring down at the stack of papers in front of him, before speaking again. “Due to the nonviolent nature of the crime and your clean criminal history, I’m going to cut you a little slack. I feel like you’re headed down a bad road, but it’s not too late for you to change course with theright environment. To that end, I’m sentencing you to 16 months at the Grandy Island Reintegration Camp. This facility is designed to treat and rehabilitate teens and young adults who are considered “at risk”, which I believe to be the case with you. Given the right incentives and guidance, it’s my hope that I won’t find you in my courtroom again. Your lawyer can provide you with further details before processing.”
“But your Honor-” my lawyer tries to protest beforethe judge lifts a hand, interrupting him, “Mr. Bailey, I’ve made my ruling.” He looks down at me. “Do you have anything else to say on this matter Miss Rykehart?”
I stare at him sullenly for a few seconds before I drop my gaze and shrug, muttering, “Yeah. No good deed.”
I look back up to see the judge’s lips tighten before he picks up his gavel and slams it down with a thunk. “Very well. Court adjourned.”
* * *
Pacing the holding room I’ve been placed in while my paperwork is processed, I can’t help but be a little nervous. I’ve never heard of the Grandy Island Reintegration camp, but it sure as heck doesn’t sound like a place I want to be.
Rubbing my sweaty palms against my pants, I’m grateful I at least got to change out of that wretched uniform they make you wear. I feel so much more myself in my worn jeans and black tank top. Better able to cope with whatever’s coming next, ifthat makes any sense. I snort. Pretty sure it doesn’t, Reagan.
I look up and stop pacing as the door opens and my lawyer appears. He motions me forward. “C’mon. The car is ready.”
Taking a deep breath, I stand there for a moment, staring at him. Firming my lips, I give a sharp nod, and push myself forward, walking to the door and heading out down the grim looking hallway that is the Miami-Dade County Courthouse.
I can hear him pacingbehind me as we make our way out of the building, and pile into the car that’s set to take me to my new future. My new life. If you can call it that. Thinking back to what got me here, covering for Claire’s lying little butt, I grimace, sighing heavily as I push up against the door and stare out the window, sullen and silent. Good going, Reagan.
My lawyer glances my way, a look of what I can only term pity on his face. I glare at him before turning my attention back to the window.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t get the sentence reduced, Reagan. Grandy Island is no picnic, I really did my best.”
I shrug. Softening somewhat, I look his way again. “You tried, Dave. That’s all anyone can ask for.” I try to console him, despite the fact that it’s me facing a bleak stint on some godforsaken island somewhere. I can’t help it though. It’s the way I’m wired. I slump back deeper into my seat, settling in for the longride down to the waterfront.