[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Seeing as it was near lunch, and the witness was – not unreasonably – tired, the judge decided to adjourn until the next morning. Nathalie was both relieved and annoyed. Relieved to get an afternoon off to recover, but annoyed that her ordeal would thus last longer. Hers was a complicated mix of emotions.

Marc was right with her the second he was allowed. He took her face in his hands, and tried to show her with his eyes just how proud of her he was. Court decorum sort of prevented him from hugging her the way he really meant to. This had to wait until they were outside.

“Oh, my dear brave Nathalie, you were perfect.” He held her in his arms for several minutes. She wished time could stop right there for a while. His embrace was such a relief, such a wonderful cocoon, that she wanted to lose herself in it.

“I have to call Sylvie. I think I want to go pick up the kids and just spend the afternoon on the couch watching movies with them. Do you think that’s OK?”

He didn’t think it was possible, but he held her even tighter. “Of course it is. It’s a perfect idea. I will only insist that we grab some food before we pick them up. I don’t know if you’re hungry now – I’m not, myself – but we’ll be hungry later for sure and we won’t feel like cooking, so how about we pick something up first? Bagels?”

“Throw in a bottle of red and a big fat dark chocolate bar, and I’m your girl. We should also grab some treats for the kids, maybe a frozen pizza? They’re always game for that…”

“So how about this: I drive you to Sylvie’s – it’s lunch time so the kids should be there with her – and I go shopping while you take time to sit with your friend and maybe have tea or something. Then I come pick you guys up and we go home, lock the door, put on our jammies, and shut out the world until morning. Works?”

“You’re the best.”

****

“And what was interesting, Marion,” Jason Martel explained to their viewers from the courthouse front steps, “is that at no time did the defence object to the lines of questioning put forward by the crown prosecutor. The defence never rose to object to anything, which is almost unheard of in criminal cases like this. Certainly the comments I received from experienced legal experts suggest it was very unusual to let the crown prosecutor ask the accused’s sister questions about his state of mind and sanity. Experts say normally the defence objects to those questions, claiming the witness is not an expert – which is true in most cases, including this one. Very few of us have the psychological and psychiatric training required to assess someone accused of murder. I know I don’t…”

“So what could this mean, then?”

“Well, that’s the thing, nobody really knows. Paul Smith is an experienced trial lawyer with a spotless record. What the defence’s behaviour in court suggests is a complete mystery to everyone I talked to. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next, when they get to question Nathalie Toussignant.”

“And when is that supposed to start, Jason?”

“First thing tomorrow morning. I’ll be here, of course, and will give you the details then.”

“Looking forward to it. Thanks Jason. That was Jason Martel, our reporter, on the steps of the Laval courthouse.”

[next chapter]