Little, Brown and Company
The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married—and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day—she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.
But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise—she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.
Little, Brown and Company
Book One | Christmas Dreaming
"I AM LIVING WITH human pigs, Señora Summer-hill. And murderers. I miss my kids like the sunlight," Eduardo Lopez told Emily as they held their brief visit in a hallway outside Judge Geraldine DeResta's courtroom down at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan.
Eduardo, a small, frail man to begin with, seemed smaller and frailer than ever to Emily. The orange jumpsuit he wore made him look like an airless balloon. Three correctional police guarded him, as if this tiny would-be criminal had a shot at escaping, or harming Emily, which made no sense at all.
When they entered the courtroom, Judge DeResta was already seated. Emily knew her as a brusque, no-nonsense sort.
She also knew Assistant District Attorney Michael Petrillo as a fast-talking, street-smart attorney, almost as tenacious as Emily herself. Petrillo's case was blatantly unjust and unfair, but sometimes that didn't make a difference in a Manhattan courtroom.
"I'd like to make this as brief as possible," Judge DeResta began. "Mr. Lopez is here on court visitation from Sullivan Correctional. Defense counsel claims new DNA evidence to enter in appeal. Please begin, Counselor, and please be concise and to the point."
Emily, who had dressed down for this occasion in criminal court, unbuttoned her gray cardigan and adjusted her white cotton blouse.
"Your Honor, a lab facility in Stamford, Connecticut, has discovered stored DNA that was taken from a semen stain on the victim's sweat shorts at the time of the crime. At that time, technology did not allow accurate identification of DNA mixed with perspiration and urine.
"Well, that was then. Current science does allow for such testing. Dr. Arthur Conover is here from NYC Forensics to verify the validity of that statement."
Judge DeResta, who had spent the last few minutes shuffling papers, said, "I'll take your word for it, Ms. Summerhill. Go on."
Emily continued, "For almost three years we have been trying to get the lab, Human Case Genetics, to release their sample. Each time they were about to do it, the DA's office managed to get a stop-action."
Judge DeResta looked at Petrillo directly.
"Is that true, Mr. Petrillo?"
"Your Honor, we respectfully petitioned the court, and they agreed that the State v. Lopez case was closed and that, furthermore, Human Case Genetics was not a New York–approved facility for DNA storage."
Emily clamped her tongue between her teeth. It was a trick Gaby had taught her so that every single thought she had didn't come spilling out of her mouth.
"But Human Case Genetics was approved at the time of the alleged crime," Emily finally said.
Petrillo's face was already bright red. He'd come here to tussle, to fight dirty, to win whatever the cost.
"Not 'alleged,' Ms. Summerhill. Mr. Lopez was found guilty!"
Emily went on as if he hadn't even spoken. "Mr. Lopez has given a new sample of his DNA. Under the supervision of Dr. Conover, a comparison has been made between that sample and the sample from the victim's sweat shorts."
Judge DeResta spoke in her characteristic singsong manner.
"And they don't match."
"No, Your Honor." Emily looked over at Eduardo. His chin was down. His eyes were filled with tears. He was the embodiment of anxiety.
"Mr. Petrillo, do you agree with this conclusion?"
"No, I do not, Your Honor," Petrillo said as he stood up.
"Why am I not surprised?" Judge DeResta said, again in that singsong manner of hers. Emily couldn't tell whether the judge was becoming angry with her, Petrillo, or both of them. Or what it would mean for her client, her innocent client.
"Your Honor, Eduardo Lopez was positively identified by the victim. Both in a mug book and a lineup. He was present at the Sara Roosevelt houses that evening, drinking and gambling . . ."
Emily interrupted. "Mr. Lopez was playing poker, yes, and he drank one beer."
"In any event," Petrillo said, "the jury found him guilty within an hour of being assigned deliberation."
"Objection. Amount of time of deliberation is irrelevant," said Emily.
"Sustained—and you can sit down, Mr. Petrillo."
"And you can stand up, Mr. Lopez," Judge DeResta said, almost in the same breath.
Eduardo looked at Emily. He was frightened to death. Together they stood at the shoddy black plastic table. Judge DeResta shook her head wearily. She ran her right hand through her short gray hair.
"Mr. Lopez," Judge DeResta said, "on behalf of the State of New York, I want to apologize for the injustice of your fifty-one months of incarceration."
Eduardo looked confused. Emily took his hand. The judge continued.
"The evidence your attorney presented today exonerates you of this crime. Prosecution counsel has introduced a note of skepticism that is both unreasonable and unjustified. In fact, I'm going to discuss this matter with my clerk, because it actually could be an illegal interference with judicial protocol."
Petrillo looked down at his folded hands. He knew better than to interrupt now.
"There is little doubt in my mind," the judge went on, "that the jury would have come to a different conclusion had today's DNA testing methods been available to the court. Mr. Lopez, you are free to go."
Emily turned to him and said quietly, "You're free, Eduardo."
Eduardo wept, and his wife, in the back row, yelled "Gracias a Dios!" His kids ran up to hug him.
The only one happier than Eduardo was Emily. To her astonishment, she felt her hands shake and her eyes fill with tears. Eduardo embraced her, and then, it seemed, she was hugged and kissed by every aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, son, and daughter in Eduardo's family. She wanted to jump up and punch the air. And maybe include Judge DeResta in the group hug.
Until she felt a vibration in the pocket of her sweater.
Emily clicked on her BlackBerry. The first text message was from her boss, Daniel Wycliffe Church, "Cliff" to his friends, senior partner at her firm. She read the message, which was short and to the point:
Where the shit are you? We've got real work to do here.
Run, Emily. Run.
Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Read by Susan McInerney, Kathleen McInerney, Ax Norman, Allyson Johnson, and Eileen Stevens
Susan McInerney is an audio book narrator of fiction and non-fiction—over 160 titles. She brings her experience in theatre, television, and radio to the recording booth.
Kathleen McInerney is an Audie award winning narrator. She has performed in New York City and around the U.S. in both classical and contemporary theater. Her other credits include television commercials, daytime drama, radio plays, and animation voice-over.
With nearly 20 years of voiceover experience, Ax Norman has voiced every conceivable type of voiceover. Ax has voiced over 60 audio books including I Drive a Dump Truck, Art Through the Ages, and Field Trip Mysteries.
Allyson Johnson began her entertainment career in her hometown of Chicago as an Emmy Award winning child news anchor. A graduate of Brown University, she is a working actress, singer, and audio book narrator in the New York City metropolitan area.
Eileen Stevens is a voice over actress living and working in NYC. Her voice can be heard on cartoons, promos, English as a Second Language programs, and audio books. She currently is the voice of "Iris" on "Pokemon" and a frequent narrator at Audible.com, among others. She’s directed audio books for Random House and was producer/director at Full House Productions, a recording studio in NYC, for over 6 years. She’s also a graduate student in speech language pathology at Hunter College.
Little, Brown and Company