I look down while I continue, “I couldn’t do it, and then it was like I was shunned. They stopped calling, they stopped coming by”—I look up—“and suddenly, I was back to being alone, but this time, I had my girls.” Blake’s mother has tears running down her face as I’m talking, Henry’s hand is holding her shoulder. “They didn’t like the changes I was making. I repainted the house, and I was moving on. To them, I was trying to erase Eric from the home we shared.” I reach forward and grab a Kleenex from the table. “How can I erase him from our lives when my girls have his eyes?” I say on a sob. “How can I erase him from my life when every single time I turn around, his memory is there?”
I don’t know how I go on, but I do. “They said if I was woman enough, he wouldn’t have done what he did. That if I was more supportive and less demanding, he would have stayed with me.” I hear a hiss and expect it to be from Blake, but it’s from Henry.
“Yesterday, they served me with court papers,” I say, crying out now, the sobs too much to keep down. “They want my girls. I can’t let them have my girls.” I can’t go on because I’m in Blake’s arms. My face is against his chest as he whispers to me that everything is going to be okay. I force myself to stop, force myself to face the music.
“Oh my God.” I hear Blake’s mother whisper. I look up at Blake and then turn around.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t bring this to you. I know that my in-laws have done some despicable things to Hailey, and I just want you to know I had no idea.”
“You poor, poor child,” his mother says. “It almost killed Hailey, but she had us, and you had no one.” She shakes her head and gets up. Coming to my side, she grabs my hand. “Henry, what can she do?” she asks her husband.
I look and see that Henry is reading the court papers. “I called another lawyer yesterday, and he thinks I have a shot, but I would need character witnesses to show the judge how Eric was. I have a letter he wrote me that I found when I was cleaning out his closet.” Blake hands the paper to him, and he opens it and reads it. His hand squeezes the paper so tight that his knuckles turn white.
He gets up and calls Beatrice. “I need you to photocopy this, and I need you to call the lawyer and set up a phone meeting with him. See if he’s available now,” he says to her and then turns to look at me. “There is no fucking way those children will go to these people,” he says, using the F word again.
“I need to use the bathroom,” I whisper to Blake, who gets up and leads me to the washroom, where I wash off my face. Walking out, I see him leaning against the wall. “You didn’t have to wait.”
“I know”—he looks at me—“I wanted to.”
He leads the way back to the office, and I hear Henry’s voice rise. “You really think you have a leg to stand on?” His voice gets louder. “You’re as delusional as your clients are,” he says and then looks up. “See you in court.” He hangs up. “So it seems that your in-laws are out for blood. Do you have a savings account with just your name?” he asks, and I nod my head. “Transfer everything to that one. Do it now.” He looks at Blake. “I hope you know what you’re doing, son, because this isn’t good.”
I swallow as I look at him. “What is going on?” I ask him, my heart racing.
“You need to transfer all your money now because if I know this type of lawyer, they are already freezing everything that you own with Eric.”
“Fuck,” Blake says, and I turn to look at him. “Come with me,” he says. I follow him to Beatrice’s desk, and he asks her to get up. “Do it now.”
I log on and make all the transfers to the one account no one knows about because I just opened it. “Done,” I say. He nods, and we walk back into the room. “All done.”
“Is it just in your name?” he asks again.
“Yes, I just opened it when I went to the bank.” I shrug. “No idea why.”
“Okay, so I’m going to give it to you straight,” he says, and I stand here with Blake on one side of me, and now his mother on the other. “We have a court appearance in two days. The court is going to assign a social worker to talk to the girls.”