“I know,” Hailey says softly, and I see that Crystal is now running into the courtroom.
“What the fuck did I miss?” she says, huffing while Gabe follows her.
“Woman, you didn’t even wait for me to stop the fucking car. Are you out of your mind?” he says with his hands on his hips as she rolls her eyes, and he takes in the scene. “Oh, fuck.” He walks to Crystal and holds her shoulders as she looks at him. “Just in case you get ahead of yourself.”
She shrugs him off. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
Nanny throws her head back and laughs. “I like him.”
“Good. You’re the only one,” Crystal says as Jensen looks down, chuckling.
No one says another word because the bailiff calls the court back. Samantha nods to Hailey and walks back to the table with my father. My family now all sits on her side, so for a woman who started with just me and my mom, she now has her own cheering section.
“It’s come to my attention that the plaintiffs have pulled their petition. So with that, I award the children to their mother,” she says, and we cheer. But then she holds up her hands. “Off the record, I have to say, Ms. Schneider, from the reports from the social worker, you are doing a wonderful job. My ruling would have been in your favor anyway,” she says. Samantha sobs, and my father takes her in his arms. “Court is adjourned,” she says and crashes the gavel.
“Thank you,” Samantha says to my father. “Thank you so much.”
She turns to look at me. “Can we go get the girls?”
I just nod my head. “Yeah, baby, we can.”
“We need to celebrate,” Nanny says loudly.
“Everyone is invited over to my house,” Samantha says and then looks at Hailey. “It’s Eric free, but I understand if you don’t feel comfortable.”
My sister smiles at her. “That would be lovely.” She turns to me and smiles. “I can’t wait to meet these girls who captured my brother’s heart.”
She hands her house keys to my mother as we get in the car and go get the girls. Both of them appear with a worried look on their faces. “Mommy,” Lizzie says, holding Daisy’s hand.
“Hey, girls,” I tell them. “We thought you might want to come have a celebration lunch with us.”
“Okay,” Daisy says, “is there ice cream?”
“That can be arranged,” I tell them as we walk to the car.
“So we went to court today,” Samantha starts, and Lizzie stops walking.
“Do we have to go live with Grandma and Grandpa?” she asks while her lower lip trembles.
“No, baby.” Samantha shakes her head, and Lizzie runs to her and wraps her arms around her waist while she sobs. Samantha leans down, kissing her head. “It’s okay, baby.”
We finally manage to get the girls in the car and back to the house. The girls don’t notice all the cars, but I do. When they open the door, they both step back. The room is filled with balloons in different shapes from hearts to stars. There are a whole bunch of zoo animals, and I look down and smile when Nanny comes out, shouting, “Surprise,” with her hands in the air.
The kids jump up and down and then run to her. “How are my beautiful girls?” she asks them as I look around. My mother and father come out from the kitchen, followed by Crystal, Gabe, Jensen, and Hailey.
“Oh my God,” Samantha says next to me. “This is amazing.” She looks at me. “So, so amazing.”
“It’s only starting,” I tell her, bending and kissing her.
I look around the room at all the balloons. “I think they outdid themselves,” I tell Blake, who’s holding my hand. I walk in and thank everyone for coming. I make eye contact with Hailey and motion to the back door. I see her nod her head, and I follow her out.
She walks down the stairs, taking in the playground structure that Eric built. “We can go swing on the swings?” I tell her, taking off my heels and walking to the structure. She does the same and follows me. I sit on one swing while she sits on the other.
“I really don’t know how to start.” I laugh and look down. “I’ve never met my husband’s fake wife before.” The nerves set in, and she looks down and laughs also.
“I thought it would hurt more,” she says, looking down at her feet in the grass and then up at me. “I thought I would break.”
“I know. I think I did break,” I tell her. “I mean, after the shock came in, and then I felt the hate.”
“I did that too,” she says. “I would sit on the beach and think about everything we went through.”
“I did that too,” I tell her. “I would go through these things and then call Blake to find out if he did them for you.”