“Here, give me your watch and your barrettes,” Jessica hissed, trying to take the objects without drawing attention to the twins. She quickly pinned back her hair and clipped the watch onto her wrist. “How do I look?”
“Like me,” Elizabeth whispered. She gave her twin a shaky smile. “Good luck.”
“I don’t need luck,” Jessica said dramatically. “I’m an actress.”
As she walked to the stand, Jessica willed her legs forward, even though they felt like two lead blocks that were holding her down. She and Bruce passed, just inches from each other. He looked into her eyes, searching for some kind of sympathy. Finding none, Jessica could pinpoint the split second he realized it was Jessica and not Elizabeth who was going to take the stand. She could practically feel the fear radiating off of him.
Don’t worry, Brucie, she thought with a smirk. I won’t rat you out.
Jessica took her seat and was sworn in. She stared at the prosecutor with a challenging look on her face.
“Ms. Wakefield, am I correct in stating that there was … an incident with Mr. Patman during your junior year of high school?” he asked.
“To which incident are you referring?” Jessica asked. “The whole Club X debacle, or that time Bruce and I won that dance-off—”
Out of the corner of her eye, Jessica could see Bruce shaking his head furiously. Oh, right, she remembered. He wants to know what happened between Elizabeth and Bruce, not me and Bruce.
“I mean, that time we did all this research on our family trees and found out this crazy stuff about Bruce’s dad and my mom,” Jessica finished. She saw her mother’s eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets.
“Allow me to refresh your memory, Ms. Wakefield,” the prosecutor said. He flipped through his notes once more, coming to rest on a page filled top to bottom with crazily scribbled writing. “You were involved in a motorcycle accident that led to your being in a coma, correct?”
“Oh, that incident,” Jessica said. “Yes, yes, I was. It was horrible!”
“And after that coma, you began acting like someone other than yourself, Ms. Wakefield?” he asked.
“Yes, I did,” Jessica said, nodding.
“And who was that person, Ms. Wakefield?” the prosecutor said.
“My sister, Jessica,” Jessica said. “We’re identical twins.”
“But Jessica is more slutty than you are, wouldn’t you say, Ms. Wakefield?” he asked.
“Objection!” Ned thundered, practically jumping out of his seat. “He just called my daughter a slut!”
“I’ll allow it,” the judge said. “Everyone in this courtroom knows all about Jessica Wakefield’s reputation. Hell, even I’ve seen her tits down at the Unicorn Club.”
Jessica shot the judge a look of annoyance. “I suppose that’s how some people might characterize my sister,” she said. “I would describe her as more of a hooker with a heart of gold, really.”
“I’ve heard sociopath, but that’s neither here nor there,” the prosecutor said. “In any case, you woke up from this coma and weren’t acting like yourself. Did you, at this time, start hanging out with Mr. Patman?”
“A little bit, I guess,” Jessica said.
“And did Mr. Patman give you something to drink?” the prosecutor demanded.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “I guess so, I don’t remember,” she said.
“Does this look familiar?” the prosecutor asked, reaching into a box on his table and pulling out a sealed evidence bag. He held it up for all in the courtroom to see, passed it slowly in front of the jury and then set it down on the divider in front of Jessica.
“A paper cup?” she asked.
“Your honor, at this time I’d like to introduce into evidence Exhibit A, a paper cup found in Mr. Patman’s car,” the prosecutor said.
“What does a paper cup have to do with anything?” Jessica demanded.
“Ms. Wakefield, you drank alcohol out of this cup, didn’t you? And once intoxicated, Mr. Patman took you to his parents’ beach house, where he touched your breast, did he not?” the prosecutor asked.
“Maybe,” Jessica said cautiously, glancing at Elizabeth for confirmation. Elizabeth shook her head violently. “I mean, no.”
“No?” the prosecutor said. “That’s not how it happened?”
“No, not at all,” Jessica said smoothly, regaining her composure. “Bruce and I were just hanging out, having fun, like BFFs do, you know?”
“BFFs,” the prosecutor said, turning toward the jury. “Ms. Wakefield, can you please explain the term BFF for those of us who don’t know what it means?”
“Objection,” Ned said, shooting up out of his chair. “Irrelevant.”
“Sustained,” the judge said, looking bored. “I don’t really care to know what a BFF is.”
“So the whole breast-touching thing was consensual?”
“Um,” Jessica hesitated, looking to Elizabeth, who was giving her an exaggerated nod. “Yes, yeah, absolutely.”
“Mother fucker,” the prosecutor said under his breath. “I’d like to excuse this witness.”
Jessica jumped up out of the chair and flounced back to her seat.
“Your honor, the state would now like to call Jessica Wakefield to the stand,” the prosecutor announced.
“Oh, shit,” Jessica whispered, unclipping the barrettes and pulling Elizabeth’s watch off her wrist. She dumped everything into her sister’s lap. She jumped back up, shaking out her hair, and slinked back into the witness stand.
Once more, she was sworn in, this time as herself.
“So, Ms. Wakefield, you’re the slutty twin,” the prosecutor said, looking her up and down. “You’ve known Mr. Patman for a long time, haven’t you?”
“Yes,” Jessica said, looking over at Bruce. His face was deathly pale.
“Would you say you and Mr. Patman are friends, Ms. Wakefield?” the prosecutor asked.
“Not really,” Jessica said, shrugging.
“Did you date Mr. Patman at one time, Ms. Wakefield?” he asked.
Jessica snorted with laughter. “Yeah, for about a week,” she said. “He’s a total dickbag, though.”
“Dickbag,” the prosecutor repeated. “Tell me, Ms. Wakefield, did you use that choice of words because of Mr. Patman’s date rapist tendencies?”
“No,” Jessica said. “It’s just that dickbag is an awesome word.”
“And what happened during the time you dated Mr. Patman, Ms. Wakefield?” the prosecutor said.
“Oh, all sorts of things,” Jessica said, ticking off each item on her fingers. “I missed cheerleading practice and class to make out with him — oh, and I missed a huge football game, too — and I had to let him always win at tennis, because he’d get really pissed off when I won. And he said I looked really slutty in my cheerleading uniform, which, let’s face it, is the whole point—”
“I’m going to stop you right there, Ms. Wakefield,” the prosecutor said, holding up a hand. “I think we can all agree that Mr. Patman is a total dickbag. What I’m most interested in is an incident that happened at a party. Do you know to what I’m referring, Ms. Wakefield?”
“Um,” Jessica said, wrinkling her nose and trying to recall whatever it was the prosecutor was getting at. “No, I don’t.”
“Maybe this will refresh your memory,” he said, pulling another sealed evidence bag out of the cardboard box on his table. “Do you know what this is, Ms. Wakefield?”
“It looks like a bikini top,” Jessica said. “But it’s totally dated.”
“Your honor, at this time I’d like to introduce into evidence Exhibit B, a bikini top owned by one Jessica Wakefield,” the prosecutor said.
“Oh no, I would never wear that,” Jessica said, shaking her head. “That looks totally ’80s.”
“That’s because it’s from the ’80s,” the prosecutor said. “Do you remember Mr. Patman untying this bikini top while you were wearing it at a party thrown by Ken Matthews?”
“Sure, I guess so,” Jessica said.
“And did you willingly let Mr. Patman untie your bikini top?” the prosecutor asked.
Jessica hesitated. Telling the truth might land Bruce in jail. She looked into her twin’s eyes, trying to figure out what to do. Elizabeth had her hands clasped together tightly. She gave Jessica the briefest of nods.
“Yes, I let him do it,” Jessica said confidently. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bruce let out a huge sigh of relief. “I mean, we were dating at the time.”
“God damn it,” the prosecutor said under his breath. “Fine, I’m dismissing this witness as well, your honor.”
Jessica returned to her seat. “How did I do?” she whispered to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was grinning from ear to ear. “You did great!” she whispered back. “Jessica, did I ever tell you how much I love you?” She enveloped her sister in a sloppy hug.
“Ugh, get off me,” Jessica said, removing her sister’s arms from around her. “That’s the booze talking.”
Elizabeth giggled. “Yeah, you’re probably right,” she said. “But I do love you, in spite of all your flaws. And the fact that you dance naked for money.”
“Shh,” Jessica said. “Dad’s about to present his side of the case.”
Ned Wakefield stood up and took his place directly in front of the jury. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have some shocking — shocking — information for you regarding this case,” he said, his hands clasped behind his back as he paced back and forth in front of the jury box. “I’ve got to tell you, I’m really grateful for eleventh-hour witnesses, because I really didn’t have much of a case. Until now. Your honor, I’d like to call Boyd Patman to the stand.”