Someone knocked twice and then opened the door. The earnest young man gripping the handle opened his mouth to speak, but then froze when he saw who was in the visitor's chair.
Judge Clary turned his palms up. "What is it, Lonny?"
He stared at Claire, who had turned towards the door. "Maybe I should wait."
"Not after a reaction like that. Come in. What's going on?"
Lonny closed the door, and stood silently for a moment, lost in thought. "It's Edward Reese, sir. He's been shot. He's dead, sir."
Claire stood unsteadily. "Where? How?"
"It was in one of his own motels, Ms. Fuller. Housekeeping found him when they went in to prep the room for a guest. The preliminary forensics report said that he was dead before he was brought there."
The judge tented his fingers. "But why that particular motel? Had he been there before?"
"Seems so. According to the motel records, they had held that very room open for him one afternoon while the case was in progress, but they don't know why he wanted it."
Claire held up a finger. "I think I do. Do you remember Randolph Starling, Wil? The man who cinched the Consolidated Communications conviction?"
"Sure. What about him?"
"If I remember correctly, Starling met with Reese when the Fremont-Wayfarer case was just getting started. He offered to have the charges dropped in exchange for the business community relinquishing all claims to corporate rights."
"So you think," Lonny said, "that his being left there has something to do with that?"
"I doubt there's any other reason for Ed Reese spending time in one of his own rat-traps. But even so, what does it mean? It's got to be a message of some sort."
"Whatever it means," Judge Clary said hopefully, "at least it'll draw the press' attention away from our other problem, Claire... your dinner with Mr. Frachetti."
"Not necessarily, sir."