The bailiff announces the judge, who walks in and nods at him, opening the file on her desk. “Your honor, the case of Schneider vs. Schneider.” He turns. “Please be seated.”
The judge starts, “In the interest of not doing any more damage to this relationship, I’m going to skip the opening statements.”
Mr. Feldman jumps up. “Your honor.” And she puts up her hand.
“I think it’s safe to say you are going to tell me what a horrible mother the defendant is”—she leans forward—“but I also have to think about the kids,” she says, “and the fact that after this, it will be hard for everyone to move on. So, in the interest of the kids, we shall refrain from the bashing of both sides. You can still cross-examine.”
I see Henry turn his head and get a nod from Blake. “Mr. Williams, please call your first witness,” she says. My neck gets hot, my knees start to shake, and I don’t know if I can do this.
Henry stands up. “Your honor, the defense would like to call its first witness.” I hear him say from next to me, and I push my chair away from the table when he puts his hand on my arm. “The defense calls Hailey Williams to the stand.”
Forty-eight hours earlier
I pull up to Hailey’s house with my parents. “This is it,” I say to them. “What if she hates me?” I look at them.
“Only one way to find out,” my father says. Getting out of the car, he helps my mother out of the backseat.
We walk up the steps to the door, ringing the bell. She has no idea we were on our way, none. And you can see it in her eyes when she opens the door and sees us. Her squeals of happiness echo on the small porch. She opens the screen door, jumping into the arms of my father. “I can’t believe you guys came and surprised me,” she says. When I finally look at her, her happiness is all over her face. She lets go of my father, going to my mother, who holds her face in her hands.
“My girl is glowing,” she says with a smile and tears. “So glowing.” She looks down at the floor and then up again.
The sound of a truck behind us makes us turn around. I told one person I was coming and that was Jensen; he needs to be here for Hailey.
I watch him step out of his truck and come up the stairs, nodding at me. “Mom, Dad,” Hailey says, moving between them to Jensen’s side, “this is Jensen.” She grabs his hand, and he brings their hands to his lips.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he says, and if he wasn’t so perfect for her, I might have rolled my eyes.
“This is such a nice surprise,” she says and then looks at us. “What’s the matter?” She spots it right away.
“Shall we go inside?” my father says, and Hailey nods. Her hand remains in Jensen’s as he whispers in her ear.
My mother looks around and tries to make small talk. “This is lovely.”
“Cut the bullshit,” Hailey says. “What’s the matter?”
“Dear, why don’t you sit down,” my mother urges, and she walks to the couch, sitting on it, with Jensen next to her. My parents sit on the other one, leaving me in front of them. “Blake,” my mother says, and I just nod.
“I have something to tell you,” I start saying and hold my neck with my hand. “There is no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to say it. I’m in love.” Hailey’s eyes go wide, and the smile fills her face as tears start to form. “Before you celebrate. I’m in love with Samantha.” Just like that, her face drops; my mother and father quickly look at her while Jensen looks like he’s going to freak out.
“What?” she whispers and gets up, throwing her hands up. “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“Honey, hear him out,” Jensen says, and she turns and glares at him, but he doesn’t stop. “Come and sit down and hear him out, and then if you freak out, you freak out.”
She crosses her arms over her chest. “You knew?”
He shakes his head. “I did not, but I think since he dragged your parents here, you should hear him out.”
She returns to her seat next to him, and he puts his hand around her shoulder. She leans into him. “Okay. I’m listening.”
I take a deep breath. “It started when Crystal and I went to see her before you guys moved here. Then she called me, or I called her, I don’t even know anymore,” I tell her, and now I start pacing. “She wanted answers; that is how it started.”
I look at Hailey and see that the tears are rolling down her face. “She wanted to know how it happened. How you and Eric met.”