Damaged(Rosato & DiNunzio #4) - Lisa Scottoline

CHAPTER ONE

Mary DiNunzio hurried down the pavement, late to work because she’d had to stop by their new caterer and try crabmeat dumplings with Asian pears. Her stomach grumbled, unaccustomed to shellfish for breakfast, much less pears of any ethnicity. Her wedding was only two weeks away, and their first caterer had gone bankrupt, keeping their deposit and requiring her to pick a new menu. She had approved the mediocre crabmeat dumplings, proof that her standards for her wedding had started at Everything Must Be Perfect, declined to Good Enough, and ended at Whatever, I Do.

It was early October in Philly, unjustifiably humid, and everyone sweated as they hustled to work. Businesspeople flowed around her, plugged into earbuds and reading their phone screens, but Mary didn’t need an electronic device to be distracted, she had her regrets. She’d made some stupid decisions in her life, but by far the stupidest was not using a wedding planner. She earned enough money to hire one, but she’d thought she could do it herself. She’d figured it wasn’t rocket science and she had a law degree, which should count for more than the ability to sue the first caterer for free.

Mary didn’t know what she’d been thinking. She was a partner at Rosato & DiNunzio, so she was already working too hard to take a honeymoon, plus it was a second job to manage her wacky family in full-blown premarital frenzy. Her fiancé, Anthony, was away, leaving her to deal with her soon-to-be mother-in-law Elvira, or El Virus. Meanwhile, tonight was the final fitting for her dress and tomorrow night was her hair-and-makeup trial. She was beginning to think of her entire wedding as a trial, a notion she hated despite the fact that she was a trial lawyer. Maybe she needed a new job, too.

Mary kicked herself as she walked along, a skill not easily performed by anyone but a Guilt Professional. She had no idea why she always thought she should do everything herself. She only ended up stressed-out, every time. She was forever trying to prove something, but she didn’t know what or to whom. She felt like she’d been in a constant state of performance since the day she was born, and she didn’t know when the show would be over. Maybe when she was married. Or dead.

She reached her office building, went through the revolving door, and crossed the air-conditioned lobby, smiling for the security guard. The elevator was standing open and empty, so she climbed inside, pushed the UP button, and put on her game face. She was running fifteen minutes late for her first client, which only added to her burden of guilt, since she hated to be late for anything or anyone. Mary’s friends knew that if she was fifteen minutes late, she must have been abducted.

She checked her appearance in the stainless-steel doors, like a corporate mirror. Her reflection was blurry, but she could see the worry lines in her forehead, and her dark blonde hair was swept back into a low ponytail because she didn’t have time to blow it dry. Her contacts were glued to her eyes since she’d spent the night emailing wedding guests who hadn’t RSVP’d. She had on a fitted navy dress and she was even wearing pantyhose, which qualified as dressed up at Rosato & DiNunzio.

Mary watched impatiently as the floor numbers changed. Her legal practice was general, which meant she handled a variety of cases, mostly state-court matters for low damages, and her client base came from the middle-class families and small businesses of South Philly, where she’d grown up. She wasn’t one of those lawyers who got their self-esteem from handling big, federal-court cases for Fortune 500 clients. Not that she got her self-esteem from within. Mary was the Neighborhood Girl Who Made Good, so she got her self-esteem from being universally beloved, which was why she was never, ever late. Until now.

“Hi, Marshall!” Mary called out to the receptionist, as soon as the elevator doors opened. She glanced around the waiting room, which was empty, and hurried to the reception desk. Marshall Trow was more the firm’s Earth Goddess than its receptionist, dressing the part in her flowing boho dress, long brown braid, and pretty, wholesome features, devoid of makeup. Marshall’s demeanor was straight-up Namaste, which was probably a job requirement for working for lawyers.

“Good morning.” Marshall smiled as Mary approached.

“Where’s O’Brien? Is he here already? Did you get my text?”

“Yes, and don’t worry. I put