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“Come on!” Malvern shouted to the unseen guards. “Get this damn screen up.”

“Sorry, counselor,” a voice said. The screen opened a fraction, and the woman slipped the envelope through the gap. Michael Helfort took it with hands slick with cold sweat.

“Open it,” Malvern said, her voice soft.

Michael shook his head. “I can’t. I’m sorry, Erica; I just can’t.”

“You want me to?”

“Not really,” Michael replied, misery splashed all across his face. “I don’t want to know.”

“You need to know. Pass it back.”

Michael did as he was told and watched Malvern tear the envelope open, his heart hammering in his chest with painful intensity. She scanned the letter and then looked up at him, the tears in her eyes sparkling in the harsh light. “I’m so sorry,” she said, her voice breaking. “The president has turned down your appeal for clemency. Sentence will be carried out one week from today.”

“No!” Michael hissed. “She can’t have. I trusted her.” He slumped back in his seat, and his head dropped into his hands. “I’ve been screwed,” he said, his voice strengthening as anger pushed fear aside. “They’ve betrayed me, all of them. Goddamn the bastards all to hell.”

Also by Graham Sharp Paul


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