“But …” I shake my head, but I stop when I see him look at me.
“We need to get sworn statements from the kids’ teachers. Was Eric present?” he asks me, and I look at him.
“He lived here half the time,” I reply. “He didn’t even know what grade they are in.”
“Good, that will work. I’ll call the school today,” he says. “Now, I’m going to ask you some questions, and I want the truth. Don’t sugar coat anything.”
I nod at him. “Are you with anyone?”
“No,” I say, but I look down. “Blake is my only friend.”
“Are you on any type of drug?” he asks, and I almost step back. “If they test you, will you be clean?”
“Yes,” I say to him. “I barely take Advil.”
“Have you ever beaten the children, slapped them, sent them to bed without supper? Anything?”
“Never,” I say, and he nods. “I would never. I was a social worker before I got pregnant,” I tell him.
“When can I meet the girls?” he asks, and I look at him. “I need to talk to them.”
“Tonight,” Blake says. “We can get them and make it in time for dinner, then we can drive back.”
“Perfect,” he says. “Now that all this is out of the way, I need to have some lunch.” He looks at Mrs. Williams. “You going to take your husband to lunch?”
She looks at him like he hangs the moon and the stars. “You bet I will.” She smiles, and Blake groans while I laugh and turn to block the sound in his arm.
We make it home with a couple of minutes to spare, and she runs in the house, grabbing their pjs and packing it. “They can fall asleep on the way back,” she says. “I’m going to follow you, so you don’t have to come back and then go home.”
“Not a chance in hell are you driving back in the dark after what happened today,” he says. “I’ll be fine. I’m off all week, so I’ll sleep tomorrow.”
“What do we tell the girls?” She turns to ask me.
“The truth,” I tell her. “I mean, not about Hailey and all that, but that her grandparents want to take them away from you. They might not get it, but don’t let them scare you.”
She nods her head and then walks out of the house, going to the bus. She walks in a couple of minutes later with the cutest kids ever. They sure do have Eric’s eyes, but that’s it; they are just as gorgeous as their mom.
“Girls,” she says, “this is my friend Blake.” The girls look at me; Daisy almost hides her face with Lizzie standing beside her mother. “His family invited us over for dinner, isn’t that fun?”
I squat down so I’m eye level with Daisy. “It’s so nice to meet you guys. Your mom has told me all about you,” I say, and Daisy finally smiles. “We should get going; I live a little far,” I say, getting up. “Is it okay if we take my truck, or did you guys want to take your mom’s?” I ask Lizzie to have her make the decision.
“Can we take Mom’s?” she asks unsure.
“Yup. I’ve always wanted to drive a mini-van,” I say, smiling, and Lizzie even laughs.
“We can watch movies in Mommy’s car,” Daisy says as we walk out of the house. I watch as Lizzie gets in, and Samantha helps Daisy in.
Halfway there, she turns around and looks in the back of the car. “Okay, girls,” she starts, and they both look at her. “Grandma and Grandpa want you to go live with them,” she says. Lizzie bursts out crying, and she reaches in the back to hold Lizzie’s hand. “But I am going to fight them to make sure you stay with me.”
“I don’t want to go,” Daisy now starts. “I want to stay with you, Mommy.”
“I know you do, honey, which is why we are going to meet Blake’s dad. He’s going to help me fight to keep you.”
“He’s going to want to talk to you and ask you questions, and you have to be honest with him, okay?” She looks at me as they both say yes. She turns around and looks out the window, a tear coming down.
“I never want to see them again,” Lizzie says quietly. “I’m never going there.”
“Me too,” Daisy says, copying her sister. I look at Samantha, who closes her eyes, putting her hand in front of her mouth to stop the sob. I reach over, grabbing her hand. We pull up to my parents’ house, and I see Nanny’s car right away. I knew my mother wouldn’t let this opportunity pass.
“Ready?” I ask as I shut off the car. Looking back, I see the girls nodding and getting out. I round the car and see that Samantha is carrying Daisy with Lizzie holding her hand. I walk to them, and Lizzie grabs my hand. All of us are connected. “It’s going to be okay, Lizzie,” I tell her, and she just nods.