Thankfully, though, she had a new lawyer to call, one who had proven himself to be kind and coolheaded in a crisis, and whom she'd come to know well enough to make him a grilled chicken Caesar salad for lunch without his having to place the order.
"I thought I'd make up for hitting your car by buying a few lunches, and I've honestly become addicted to the food," Navarro once said with a laugh.
She called Greg Navarro using a number in her phone's contacts, and to her great relief he answered after a couple rings. She didn't need to make an introduction, but still found herself saying, "It's Grace from Big Frank's," then, albeit breathlessly, broke the news about her daughter, recounting as quickly as she could the detective's visit and what he'd told her of Penny's arrest.
Navarro's first words back to her were delivered with quick and decisive precision.
"Tell the detective she can't be interviewed, and get yourself down to the police station soon as you can. Don't forget to bring her a change of clothes and a towel. They may not have one. I'm not sure they even have a shower. I'll call the station myself, soon as we're off the phone so they know she's not to talk to anybody, not until I get there. Give me thirty minutes, max. And Grace..."
"Don't talk to the police either."
"Got it," she said.
He'd barely done anything to help her and already Grace liked him better than Penny's last lawyer. At Navarro's instruction, Grace handed the phone to Allio, who was waiting patiently outside. A moment later, Allio gave the phone back to Grace.
"He made it clear we're not interviewing her. But, if she wants to make a statement, it could definitely help her in court."
Score one for Navarro, who had anticipated she'd be pressured. Grace followed Allio's sedan to the police station in her Mini Cooper, which had a new bumper thanks to her daughter's new lawyer. Allio had offered her a ride, but Grace declined. She needed to be alone with her thoughts, her fears. The only person's company she wanted had half his ashes dumped in the ocean, the other half stored in an urn on a shelf in the home they had shared for twenty years.
The police station was a fortress-like three-story brick structure. Allio directed Grace to a visitor's parking spot in the back of the building, where he waited for her before using a key card to open a metal door. He escorted her down a series of austere hallways until they came to a cramped, windowless room, which contained a small rectangular table pushed up against a soundproofed wall, some round- backed plastic chairs, and nothing more.
Pacing felt like the only way she could pass the minutes before Navarro got there.The younger officers who came to check on her called her "ma'am," offered to get her water, coffee, or tea, something to eat from the vending machine if she preferred, all of which she declined. Her stomach felt too unsettled to take in anything other than air, and even that wasn't going down smoothly given how tight and dry her throat had become.
Greg Navarro entered the room while Grace was responding to a text from her sister-in-law, Annie. She was making it clear to Annie not to tell Grace's two boys, Ryan and Jack, both of whom were attending college in Boston, anything other than what she had shared: that their sister Penny had been arrested, and details would be forthcoming.
Navarro came dressed in a blue suit and tie, similar to what he wore whenever he dined at Big Frank's. Seeing him made it easier to breathe. "How are you?" he asked, taking a seat at the small table and encouraging Grace to do the same.
As she settled herself into the uncomfortable chair across from him, Grace managed to muster the lie: "I'm fine, thank you."
Navarro returned a look of encouragement. "Hang in there, all right?" he said. "We're going to take this a step at a time."
He handed Grace a plastic bottle of water, which he'd brought just for her, and she took a generous drink.
"Before we go on, we've talked some about your cases, and I know you're a very good lawyer, but I need to know that you've handled murder cases before." Grace couldn't believe she'd uttered those words in connection with her daughter.
"Trust me, you're in good hands, Grace," Navarro answered with assuredness. "I provide the gamut of legal services, but I specialize in criminal defense.