Sent to Altarcza, sentenced to life without parole for the murders of her husband and child, all Ivana Trenchuet wishes for is death. She tries to make it happen by instigating fights with the other inmates.
Zavion Tendussa does not really want to become the new warden of Altarcza, but the perks are tempting. At least the position has one bonus—he and his baby girl get to live in a beautiful mansion outside the prison’s walls.
When Ivana is ordered to appear before the new warden, she expects the worst punishment—the cooler. Which suits her fine because the cooler will accomplish her wish to die.
Roberto was studying a case on his laptop that stood open on his desk as he pinned on his badge. His phaser lay on the desktop, along with his gun, belt, wallet, and peppermints. Darea, their four-year-old daughter, sat in the middle of the floor, playing with her doll. The window was wide open, and a warm breeze wafted into the room, playing with the long sheer white curtains.
“Don’t be long. I’m running late. Gary is already waiting for me out front.”
She gazed out the window and saw Gary, Roberto’s partner, sitting in his vehicle, parked on the street.
“I won’t be long. I promise. Put that gun away, and don’t forget to close the window. You’re letting in all the heat.” Their house had an AC system, but it was disconnected due to air conditioners being outlawed.
She blew him a kiss and hurried up the stairs to the bathroom. She vaguely heard Roberto yelling at Gary that he’d join him as soon as she’d finished her shower.
Her five-minute hot water allotment was up too fast, and she had just stepped out of the shower, wound a towel around her hair, and slipped into her bathrobe when an unearthly scream sounded from the main floor of the house.
Ivana ran down the stairs to the study and almost fell over the nanny, who sat on her knees in the door opening. “What happened?”
But Elthea didn’t answer, just knelt there with two hands covering her face. Ivana almost fainted at the scene that greeted her in the center of the study. Roberto lay on the floor, his chest covered in blood, his eyes gazing sightlessly at the ceiling, and Darea lay not far from him, lifeless, her face covered in blood. Roberto’s phaser was on the floor beside Darea’s outstretched hand.
After that, time passed in a haze.
She recalled gathering Darea to her, pushing the blood-soaked hair back from her forehead, picking up the phaser, and staring at it… Suddenly, Gary came running into the room. Soon police, detectives, and paramedics surrounded her. People everywhere… Almost as if they’d been on standby.
Being cuffed and led out of the house, still wearing only her bathrobe, wetness seeping through the material. The towel had dropped from her hair somewhere along the line.
First-degree murder pronounced…
The closed hearing had been a farce. The nanny was in shock, taken to the hospital, and unable to answer questions. It was said that the shock had wiped her memory of finding the victims. And Ivana’s bloody prints had been all over the weapon, which condemned her.