Murder Has Two Faces

Part 5

by Tonya S. Coley


For Disclaimers: See part 1

Chapter 9

Johnnie paced back and forth in her cell. She knew that she could count on Tori to work quickly on raising her bail. Cash bond, I can't fucking believe it. That judge acted as if I were some low life criminal. She thought to herself. You are accused of murder, idiot. What do you expect? Johnnie looked at her hands; they were large, strong and capable of inflicting serious damage. Did I kill him? Am I capable of murder? She questioned herself.

The guard interrupted any further musings. “You have a visitor, Green. I think it's your attorney.”

Johnnie was puzzled. Why would Bob want to see me now? She wondered.

When Johnnie entered the room for attorney and client conferences, she was stunned to find Maddie waiting for her. “What are you doing here?” She politely asked. “Do I need my attorney?”

Maddie smiled. “No, I just wanted to see if you were ok?” She paused. “I had no idea that you would be attacked. I am so sorry.”

Johnnie looked at Maddie suspiciously. What is she up to? What does she want? “Things like that happen in jail all the time. I'm ok, I handled it.”

Maddie appraised Johnnie, taking in her features and well-developed body. She is even more gorgeous now, than when we were together. She walked over to Johnnie, and looked into her eyes. “I'm sure you did. Are you really ok?”

“I'll be just fine as soon as Alma gets me out of here.” She said. “Now Maddie, tell me why you are really here.”

“I just had to see you, my Ebony Queen.” She lustfully whispered as she placed her hand on Johnnie's bicep.

What the fuck… Johnnie took a step back. “I haven't been that in over ten years, Maddie. That was a decision that you made for the both of us.”

“It was the worst mistake I ever made.” Maddie said as she moved closer, invading Johnnie's space. “Johnnie, I have missed you terribly. Being so close to you has stirred something in me.” She moved to embrace her, but Johnnie blocked her arms.

“Don't do this, Maddie. It's over. It's been over for a long time. I have moved on, and I think you should, too.” Johnnie softly said.

“I've never gotten you out of my system, Johnnie. I want us to get back together. We belong together, don't you see?” Maddie told her, desperation growing in her voice.

Johnnie was stunned. “Maddie, I'm married now. I love Alma with all my heart and soul. I couldn't live without her, nor would I even try.”

“You used to feel that way about me. Remember, Johnnie?” Maddie asked.

“I'm not trying to hurt you.” Johnnie said, her voice more firm. “What we had is over. I've never loved anyone the way I love Alma.”

Maddie's eyes filled with tears. “Johnnie, you don't mean that. You loved me, too.”

“I did love you, Maddie. Did being the operative word. I have grown, and Alma has taught me about love on a higher plain. I never really even knew what love was until she came into my life.” Johnnie said.

“What about what we shared?” Maddie asked, her voice pleading. “I've grown too, Johnnie. I want you back.”

Johnnie became impatient with her. “It's over, Maddie. I would never take you back. Alma is my life, and I will never leave her.”

Maddie became furious. “You're still the selfish bitch you always were.” She angrily spat. “How could I humiliate myself by begging? You're probably on your way to death row anyway. Alma can have you. She deserves you.”

Johnnie grabbed her by the arm. “You don't know Alma, so don't talk about her.” She growled through clenched teeth. Maddie snatched her arm out of Johnnie's grasp and took a step back. Johnnie continued her tirade. “It wasn't me who ruined us, it was you. You and your ambition, only caring about what was important to you. You never committed to us, and I thank God for that. I am happier now than I could possibly be with you or anyone else.”

“Fine.” Maddie hissed. “I hope that you will be happy loving her from behind bars.”

“You'd better go before I do something stupid.” Johnnie ordered.

“What? Are you going to kill me, too?” Maddie defiantly asked.

“Fuck you, Maddie.” Johnnie hissed through clenched teeth.

Maddie gave her a feral grin as she headed toward the door. “By the way, they don't allow conjugal visits in North Carolina. I wonder how long it will take that hot blooded little chica of yours to find herself someone new.”

Realizing that it was Maddie's way of finishing an argument, Johnnie never even blinked. “If I am locked up, my love for Alma will never diminish, nor hers for me. Now get out.”

Maddie tossed her hair and walked out. When she got to her car, she began to cry. If I can't have you, Alma won't either. I'll see to that.

Tori worked quickly to transfer funds from Johnnie's various accounts into the account at her local bank. She and Alma drove to the bank to get a cashier's check to post Johnnie's bond.

This is such a mess, Querida. Alma thought. Her brows furrowed as a dark thought entered her mind. Could she have possibly killed him? She was angry enough, and she nearly succeeded at the cemetery. She quickly shook that thought off. Johnnie would never take a life. She is not like that.

“Green, your wife's here. She's posting your bail.” The guard said. “Here are your clothes.”

Johnnie looked up at the guard; it was the one that put her in solitary. “Thanks.” Johnnie said. “For everything you've done.”

The guard smiled. “It was nothing. I only did my job.”

Johnnie smiled as she stood up. “You did more than your job. You may have saved my life.” She looked at the guard's nametag. “Thanks, Barnes.”

Ms. Barnes blushed. “You're welcome. Good luck with the case.” She turned and left the cell, locking the door behind her.

Alma breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Johnnie walking toward her and Tori. She ran and leaped into Johnnie's arms.

Johnnie grimaced a little due to her sore ribs. She held her tightly and kissed her. “I missed you, baby.”

Alma's eyes were filled with tears. “Oh, Querida, I have missed you, too.” She cupped Johnnie's face as soon as she put her down. “Are you ok? Did that bad woman hurt you?”

Johnnie chuckled. “I'm fine, baby.” She looked to Tori. “Thank you for getting me out as quickly as you did.”

Tori smiled at her. “Just made a couple of fund transfers. Wasn't hard at all.”

Johnnie touched Alma's cheek. “Don't worry about the money, baby. We'll get it back, I promise.”

“The money means nothing to me, Johnnie.” Alma whispered. “I want you. I want to grow old with you, my love.”

Johnnie smiled at her, and held her chin. “You will. Till death do us part, remember?”

Tears flowed slowly down Alma's cheeks. She kissed Johnnie's fingers and whispered, “Till death do us part.”

When they arrived at the house, Johnnie looked around expectantly. Her heart sank when she remembered that Phillip wasn't going to come running around the corner.

Alma could see the loss and sorrow in Johnnie's eyes. “It's empty without him. I know how you feel, Johnnie. I miss him, too.” She whispered, caressing her arm and shoulder.

Johnnie wrapped her arms around Alma. “I don't know how I could get through this without you, baby.” She kissed her forehead and walked down the hall and into Phillip's bedroom, sitting down on his bed. Johnnie held her head and began to cry.

Alma sat beside Johnnie and held her as they both cried. When they finished Alma looked around the bedroom. “Let's leave things the way they are for right now.”

Johnnie nodded her head in agreement. “I was thinking the same thing.”

Alma noticed how tired Johnnie looked. “Perhaps you should take a nap, beloved. You look exhausted.”

Johnnie sighed. “I didn't get much sleep last night.”

Alma gave her a half-hearted smile. “I know, and we will discuss it when you wake up.” She kissed her and sent her to bed.

Johnnie was walking downtown, when she noticed a little boy dressed in buckskins running toward her. When he got closer, she saw that it was Phillip. “Champ!” She cried out. “Come to Mama, son.”

Phillip waved and turned toward City Hall. Johnnie took off in hot pursuit behind him.

“Champ, where are you going?” She asked. “Come to Mama.”

He ran inside, with Johnnie right on his heels. It was not well lit, and a mist covered the floor. She suddenly felt a small hand slip into hers. She looked down and saw that it was Phillip. She smiled at him.

“C'mon, Mama. Let's go see.” He told her as he pulled her toward the elevators.

Johnnie went with him. She noticed the smell of alcohol as they walked. They went inside the elevator, and it stopped on the third floor. The doors opened and they were near Ballantine's office. When they stepped out, she saw herself staggering into his office. “What's going on here?”

“Mama, see in you head. Look Mama, look.” Phillip instructed, as he pulled her to the doorway.

Johnnie watched herself and Ballantine, as they argued then fought. “So that's where the blood came from.” She said. She saw herself stagger out of his office, with him still alive.

Phillip looked up at her. “See, Mama, you no did bad ting.”

“Thank you, Champ.” She whispered as tears fell from her eyes. “You've helped Mama.” Johnnie then saw her father standing at the end of the hallway, with his bow and quiver and a smaller version in his hand.

“I go now, Mama. Paw-paw take me hunting.” He said as he slipped his hand out of hers.

“No, Champ, don't go.” She hoarsely whispered.

“Kiss Mami for me.” He told her. “Oh, Mami has 'prize for you.”

“Champ, wait.” Johnnie yelled.

“Bye Mama.” He said, smiling and waving as he faded away.

Johnnie woke from her dream, crying and yelling Phillip's name. Alma, Ceecee and Tori all ran in to see what was going on. Johnnie was sobbing into her hands.

“Querida, what's wrong?” Alma asked frantically as she sat on the bed and took Johnnie into her arms.

“Champ, Alma, it was Champ.” Johnnie said as she tried to calm down. “He guided me to the truth about that night in Ballantine's office.”

“What are you talking about, Johnnie?” Tori asked.

Alma stroked Johnnie's face as Johnnie told them of the dream. “I was there, but I didn't kill him. I was going to expose him for what he really was.” She said.

“What are you talking about?” Alma asked.

“I was going to expose him. Why would I kill him if I were going to destroy him? Killing would be too good for that freak. I was going to make him suffer for what he did to me and my family.” Johnnie acknowledged.

“Is that why Bobby came to see you?” Tori asked.

“Yeah. He had the proof I needed to expose him.” She said, and then turned her attention back to Alma. “Baby, Champ said something else, too.”

“What was it, beloved?” Alma asked.

“He told me that you had a surprise for me.” She said. “What is it?”

Alma was stunned. She looked up her eyes locked with Ceecee's, looking like a deer caught in headlights. Alma looked back a Johnnie. “I, um, Johnnie there is something that I need to tell you, but I just don't know how.”

Johnnie became a little worried at the tone and demeanor that Alma had taken. “Baby, whatever it is, you can tell me.”

Alma stood up and walked over to the dresser. She began to play with her hands, wringing then nervously. Johnnie got up off the bed and walked over to stand behind her. “Alma, what is it, baby?”

“You see it's like this, Querida. On the day that Phillip died, we had gone out. I had a doctor's appointment, and then we went shopping.” She quickly said.

“Hold up, Alma. You went to the doctor? Are you ill, what's wrong?” Johnnie asked in a panic, turning Alma around to face her.

Alma looked shyly up at her. “It's nothing like that, beloved. I am fine.”

“Well what is it, then?” Johnnie asked.

Alma began to stutter. “Johnnie? I…I'm…”

“Alma, tell me.” Johnnie begged as fear still held a steady grip on her heart. I can't lose her, too.

“We're having a baby. I'm pregnant.” Alma whispered.

Johnnie could barely make out her words. “Say again.”

“I'm pregnant.” Alma said a little louder.

Tori looked to Ceecee. “Pregnant?” She mouthed. Ceecee nodded her head. She took Tori's hand and led her out of the bedroom to give Johnnie and Alma some privacy.

Alma's words stunned Johnnie into silence.

“This is killing me, baby.” Johnnie said, unable to hide her frustration.

“I know it is.” Alma said. “But the doctor told us that there is a possibility that we would have to keep trying.”

Johnnie sighed. “I remember. We have attempted this four times already.” She held up the test stick, examining it closely. “We did do it right, didn't we?”

“Yes, Querida. We did it right.” Alma sighed. She knew that Johnnie had little patience when she was excited about something. “I tell you what; from now on I will go and have the procedure alone. That way you will be surprised and not drive me up the wall when the test is negative. “

Johnnie pouted. “But, baby, I want to be there with you.”

Alma held up her hand in protest. “Beloved, you make me crazy with all the questions and the pacing. It will be a lovely surprise when I tell you that we are pregnant.”

Johnnie realized that she could be a pain sometimes. “Okay, baby. If you are sure.”

Alma smiled. “I am.” She kissed her tall wife and embraced her.

Johnnie held her tightly. “Alma?”

“Yes, Querida?” Alma asked.

“Can we do it like this all the time?” Johnnie inquired.

Alma smiled. “What, I surprise you when I am pregnant?”

“Yes.” Johnnie gave in response.

Alma looked up at her. She saw the childlike grin that was on Johnnie's face and couldn't hold back her chuckle. “Of course we can, my love.”

“Did you hear what I said?” Alma asked her. Please don't be angry with me.

Johnnie's breathing began to speed up as a smile formed on her face. “I love you, Alma.” She said as she rubbed Alma's shoulders. “Why did you wait to tell me?”

Alma lowered her head and sighed heavily. “With all that was going on, I didn't think that you would want another baby right now.”

“Alma, look at me.” Johnnie said softly. “I love you. The fact that you wanted to surprise me is wonderful.”

“Johnnie?” Alma started to interrupt but was halted by Johnnie's finger on her lips.

“I know, baby. I would have loved for Champ to be here, too.” Johnnie said. Her voice began to quaver at the thought of her lost son. “He would have been a great big brother.” Johnnie could no longer hold the tears that welled up in her eyes.

“Oh, baby.” Alma said as Johnnie collapsed in her arms and cried. She led them over to their bed and leaned back, pulling Johnnie's head onto her chest. She stroked Johnnie's head as her body shook with sobs. Alma allowed her tears to fall silently as they both drifted off to sleep.

After a light dinner prepared by Tori, Johnnie made a phone call to Laura.

“Hi, Laura, it's me.” Johnnie said.

Laura smiled broadly. “Hey, Johnnie. How are you?”

“I'm ok. Laura, I hate to interrupt your evening, but I need a favor.” Johnnie softly said.

“Name it, Johnnie. What do you need?” Laura asked.

“We need to have an emergency brainstorming session tonight. Could you call Tracy, Mike and Glen and have them meet with us here tonight?” Johnnie requested.

Laura quickly agreed. “Is there anything else?”

“Yes.” Johnnie said. “There is a manila envelope on my desk. Could you stop by the office on your way here and bring it with you?”

“Sure, Johnnie.” She said, and then hung up.

Johnnie placed the phone back on its cradle. There is no way in hell I'm gonna be locked away from my wife and child. She thought to herself.

Chapter 10

Johnnie's associates arrived not too long after Laura made the phone calls. After warm greetings, they all went into the dining room where they could all be seated.

“Thank you guys for coming on such short notice, but this is very important.” Johnnie said. “I can't go to prison. I can't leave Alma alone, especially not now.”

They looked at one another, and then to her with puzzled looks on their faces.

“Number one, I didn't kill that bastard Ballantine.” She firmly stated. “Number two, well, my wife and I are gonna have a baby.” She looked around the room to gauge the reactions of her friends. Shock and surprise masked their faces, and then full out smiles.

“How far along are you, Alma?” Glenda asked. “When did you find out?”

Sadness washed across Alma's face. “I'm almost two months. I found out the day that Phillip died.” She walked over to Johnnie, and Johnnie pulled her onto her lap.

“God works in mysterious ways.” Laura said. “We will just have to trust him.”

Johnnie smiled as she placed her hand over Alma's belly. “Yes, all things are done according to his will.” Alma covered Johnnie's hand and pulled it closer to her body.

“I am going to leave you to this business.” Alma said as she stood. She leaned down to capture Johnnie's lips for a chaste kiss.

“I'll join you.” Ceecee announced. The both went into another part of the house.

“Ok, let's get down to business.” Johnnie said. “Laura did you get the envelope?”

“Here it is.” She said as she pulled it from her satchel and passed it to Johnnie.

Johnnie smiled. “Thanks.” She paused and took a deep breath. “I remembered what happened between me and Ballantine the night he was killed. I did go to his office, and we got into a fight. When I left his office, he was still alive.”

“How are we going to be able to prove it, Johnnie?” Tracy asked.

Johnnie held up the envelope. “I have proof that Ballantine wasn't what he claimed to be, and I was going to expose him.” She opened the envelope and took out the pictures, and looked directly at Tracy. “You know what a living hell he put us through?” Tracy nodded. “He said that we were sick and perverted.” She began to pass the photos out. “It was he who was sick and perverted.”

Glenda took the photos and gasped in horror at what she saw. “Oh my God, this is a child.”

Mike looked at a few and threw them down. “Where did you get these, Johnnie?”

“Tori's cousin, an investigator in New York.” She told him.

“Where did he get these?” Tracy inquired.

“It seems that the owner of that place got his jollies by watching his customers. He took pictures and probably used them to blackmail some of them.” She revealed. “There was a bust, and the cops shut the place down. A friend of Bobby's gave him the pics and that's why I have them.”

“Well, now you can take this to the police and you will be cleared.” Tori said.

“That wouldn't be a good idea, Tori.” Glenda interjected. “What better motive for someone with a young child to murder a pedophile.”

“I didn't think of that. Shit!” Johnnie hissed.

“We have something else.” Mike said. “This came in this morning. Ballantine had ties to organized crime”

“That's right.” Laura added. “The Friends of Alexander Ballantine are based in New York, and the president of this group is none other than Michael Gardena.”

Johnnie was stunned. “He is all over the news.” She noticed a mask of concentration form on Glenda's face. She gave her a few moments. “What is it, Glen?” She finally had to ask.

“It may be nothing, but that guy Peters had his head so far up Ballantine's ass that maybe…” Glenda paused.

“Spill it, Glen.” Johnnie anxiously said.

“If Ballantine was involved with the mafia, how do we know that Peters isn't, too? They were thick as thieves.” She said.

Johnnie walked over to her, clutched her shoulders and smiled down at her. “That's why I hired you, kid. That brain is always working.” She looked at Mike, and before she could say anything, he stood and told her that he was on it.

“We all have work to do.” Tracy said. “Guess we'd better get to it.”

Alma lay on her back as Johnnie whispered to her stomach. She twirled Johnnie's hair between her fingers as Johnnie's hands stroked her belly.

“Hey, you in there. This is your Mama talking.” Johnnie cooed. “I can't wait to see you. We're gonna have lots of fun. I love you.”

Alma couldn't contain her chuckles.

Johnnie looked up at her and asked, “What's so funny?”

“The way you talk to my belly is funny.” She said. Then she became sullen. “You did that with Phillip.”

Johnnie moved up on the bed to hold Alma. “I know, baby.” She paused. “Have I upset you?”

Alma looked into Johnnie's eyes. “No, you haven't. I just miss him.”

Johnnie kissed her forehead. “I miss him, too.” She paused as she ran her hand up Alma's back. “This is a very stressful time for us. I think it would be a good idea if you go back to the doc and get checked out again.”

“I know I should have discussed this with you first.” Alma whispered.

“We agreed that you would surprise me, remember? I know with everything that is going on, you may have some regrets, but I want you to know that I am happy about the baby.” Johnnie assured her.

Alma smiled and moved in for a kiss. It started out as chaste, but it turned into something more, something primal. Alma needed Johnnie to make love to her, and Johnnie was willing. Her hand slipped between them and she cupped Alma's breast, stroking the nipple to life underneath the t-shirt that Alma wore.

Alma hissed, and pushed Johnnie onto her back as she straddled her hips. She removed her t-shirt and tossed it to the floor. “Touch me, Querida.” She huskily requested.

Johnnie trailed her hands from Alma's hips, up her belly, and then fondled Alma's breasts. Alma ground her hips into Johnnie as her breathing became erratic. At Johnnie's urging, she leaned forward, allowing her breasts to be suckled.

“Yes, baby.” Alma hissed. “Just like that.”

Johnnie moaned as she suckled one breast, then the other. She could feel Alma's wetness as it soaked through her boxers.

“Take them off.” Alma urged.

Johnnie lifted her hips, with Alma still astride her, and pushed them down. She used her legs to finish removing them. Once accomplished, Alma's soaked mound came into contact with Johnnie's. “Baby, you are so wet.” Johnnie whispered.

“Only for you, beloved.” Alma said between kisses.

Johnnie moved her hand between Alma's thighs, stroking the swollen bud between her middle and index finger. Alma's breath caught in her chest. Johnnie then slipped those fingers inside Alma and continued stroking her clit with her thumb.

“Si, mi amor.” Alma rasped. Then she cupped Johnnie's mound with her hand. “You are wet for me.”

Johnnie's breath hitched when Alma's hand made contact. “Damn, baby, what you do to me.” She moved Alma until she was turned around, facing backwards. As Alma lowered herself on Johnnie's face, she moved hers between Johnnie's thighs. Simultaneously, their hungry mouths met aching clefts. They moaned and hummed their pleasure into each other. Alma, sensing that both of them were about to go over the edge, moved off of Johnnie.

“What, what's wrong?” Johnnie breathlessly asked.

Alma said nothing as she moved unsteadily to the drawer they kept 'Little J'. “Put this on.” She ordered. “I want you to fuck me senseless.”

Johnnie was shocked at the tone Alma took with her. So my little one wants me to fuck her. A feral grin formed on Johnnie's face. I will fuck you, baby. “Alma, are you sure about this?” She asked, still hesitating a little.

“Querida, the doctor said that we could enjoy sex up until the ninth month if we choose to.” Alma assured her.

“Baby, you know how I get.” Johnnie said.

“I know.” Alma said as she spread herself on the bed. “I will let you know if it hurts.”

“Ok.” Johnnie said as she placed the head of 'Little J' at Alma's opening.

Johnnie's hair was plastered to her back, as sweat poured from her body in rivulets. She thrust into Alma while she suckled her breasts. Alma was chanting Johnnie's name over and over, like a mantra. Johnnie took Alma's legs and draped them over her shoulders. She leaned forward, locking her knees as she drove harder and faster into her wife.

“Alma, baby. Is this what you want?” She asked between thrusts. The appendage stimulated her clit until she was near release.

“Si.” Alma hissed. She reached up to hold onto the headboard, taking all that Johnnie gave her.

Johnnie felt Alma was near to orgasm; so she withdrew and moved her head down between Alma's thighs; she used her tongue to bring her to the edge and over. Alma's screams of pleasure reverberated throughout the bedroom, and possibly the entire house. Taking off the harness, Johnnie moved to straddle Alma's thigh. She began her undulation with a ferocious intensity, resting her forearms on the bed for leverage. Johnnie came quickly; she contracted violently against Alma's body, leaving a trail of wetness in the wake of her thrusts. They lay spent in each other's arms as they drifted into the land of Morpheus.

Johnnie was awakened by the sound of thunder. She slowly opened her eyes, and could hear the rain as it fell. Looking down, she could see Alma draped on her left side. She moved to get off the bed, only stirring Alma a little, and eased her way over to the window. Opening the blinds just a little, she could see the sky begin to lighten as dawn approached. The sound of the rain always soothed her. What if I am convicted? What will I do? I can't leave Alma all alone to raise our child. I'll have a little talk with her about what we need to do, later. She mused.

“Johnnie, what's wrong?” Alma asked sleepily as she turned onto her side. “Can't sleep?”

Johnnie turned to look at her beautiful wife. She took in Alma's magnificent exquisiteness; her curly hair, beautiful brown eyes full of love, her soft, brown skin as it contrasted against the sheets. She walked back over to the bed and sat down, placing Alma's head into her lap. Johnnie began to stroke Alma's hair and face. “Alma,” Johnnie whispered. “I want you to promise me one thing.”

“Anything, beloved.” Alma agreed quietly.

“If I am convicted, do not put your life on hold for me.” She told her. “I want you to keep living, baby.”

Alma sat up and glared at her. “How dare you say that to me?” She hissed angrily. “We are married, or have you forgotten that? Through sickness and health, and through all adversity, do you remember our vows?”

When Johnnie realized that she had struck a nerve, she knew that she had to appease her wife or face her wrath. “Alma, that's not what I meant. I remember our vows and I intend to live up to every one of them.”

“Then why do you think I wouldn't?” Alma yelled. It was too late, she was angry. She got off the bed quickly.

“Hold on, Alma. Baby, please listen to me.” Johnnie pleaded. She stood in front of her livid wife. “If I am convicted, that means I will die. This is a death penalty case, sweetheart.”

Alma, still shaking from her fury, began to listen to what Johnnie was saying. “Johnnie, you didn't murder Ballantine. The truth will prevail.” The tears that fell were not tears of anger, but tears of fear.

Johnnie gently took Alma by her shoulders. “I can't be so sure about that, baby. I know how the system is. Sometimes innocent people go to prison.” She sighed. “I am a black woman being accused of killing a white man.” She paused. The DA also has it in for me. She's gonna be gunning for me.”

“Why, baby?” Alma asked with her voice and body trembling.

Johnnie released her hold on Alma and looked down at the floor. She was not happy about the way she used women before she and Alma got together. “You remember how I was before we met?”

“Yes.” Alma answered, questioning her with her eyes. “I remember, Querida.”

Johnnie began to tell her tale. “About twelve years ago, I transferred from Goldsboro. I came to Wilmington, vowing to make a difference. I met this young attorney, Madelyn Marshall, and we seemed to hit it off. After a couple of months of dating, we moved in together.”

Alma was shocked. Johnnie had not revealed that she lived with another woman.

“She was ambitious.” Johnnie continued. “She put everything ahead of us. I couldn't take it, so I moved out.” She paused. “I thought that we would be together forever.”

Alma stared blankly at her. The shock of knowing that Johnnie had been committed to someone else would not have been so bad if she had revealed it to her before now. How could she keep something as significant as that from me? She moved to walk away.

“Alma, please talk to me.” Johnnie implored, gently grabbing Alma's arm.

“Did you plan a future with her? Did you plan a family?” Alma demanded.

“Baby, it never got to that point.” Johnnie said. “I never loved her the way that I love you. I told her that before I was released yesterday.”

“You discussed us with her?” Alma sharply asked. Her anger had taken control, and before she realized it she had slapped Johnnie across the face.

Johnnie was taken aback. In all their years together, neither one of them had ever lifted a hand against the other in anger. “Alma! Are you crazy, woman?” She asked as she rubbed the sting that remained on her face. “I told you, I never loved her like I love you.”

“Why were you even talking to her? She is trying to put you in prison.” She screamed, beating her hands into Johnnie's chest while crying hysterically.

Johnnie could now see terror in Alma's eyes. She knew that Alma, under normal circumstances, would never have reacted the way she did. She grabbed Alma, and held her as she hysterically cried. Champ's death and my being in jail has got to be taking a toll on her. Now she's pregnant, what am I going to do? “It's ok, baby. I've got you.” Johnnie whispered. Her heart ached for Alma.

When Alma got her sobbing under control she was able to speak. “I am so sorry beloved. I never meant to hurt you. I would never…”

Johnnie interrupted. “I know you didn't mean to hit me, baby. Emotions are running high for the both of us.” She paused. “If I had just stayed home that night, we wouldn't even be worrying about a trial.”

Alma looked up at Johnnie with tear filled eyes. “Don't blame yourself. You were drunk, and wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Please hold it together, sweetheart. You need to stay focused. “We will get through this.”

Johnnie kissed Alma's cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Alma whispered. “Let's get some sleep.”


part 6

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