6 - Uncomfortable Questions

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This chapter is dedicated to a fellow DV writer CJLaurence. Her story 'Retribution' is also about healing and recovery - I can only recommend it.

6 - Uncomfortable Questions

Charlotte's POV

Our fight for Noah started even before he was born. In hindsight, filing for custody was probably Ryan's attempt to keep me invested in our marriage - without it, I would have left him after Rena's trial. He could no longer threaten me to alienate me from my son and for the first time in my life, I had the prospects of my own money. Brent had died without a will and I was to inherit a healthy portion of his trust fund. That could have given me a fresh start in a foreign country where Ryan had no pull and there was nothing else to keep confined to my prison - except for my grandson.

I played right into his hands when he came home a few days after Rena's sentencing, announcing that 'there was no way in hell he will allow for his grandkid to be raised by this murderer'. Those words were bait I couldn't resist.

Four days later, we sat across from Tivon Goldstein, a top notch lawyer for family law in Chicago. Ryan briefed him on the situation while my eyes were stuck to the back of the picture frame on his desk, wondering what his family looked like. I had been instructed not to talk - this was mere men's business.

When Ryan was finished, I dared to glance at Tivon. He was leaning back in his chair, his long fingers resting on his lips. With fine chiselled features and his tanned face, he was kind of handsome, but in a totally different way from Ryan. My husband considered someone like him a wimp since Tivon's body lacked serious muscle tissue.

After a moment of silence, Tivon picked up a pen and pulled his yellow notepad closer. "Well, grandparents' rights in Illinois are very limited. Under normal circumstances, you couldn't even ask for visitation, but since the father of the child is deceased, there are exceptions. Now, what's the mother's name?"

"Rena Cooper."

The pen froze on the paper. "As in 'Miss Slice and Dice'?"

His words were a cruel reminder of the way Brent had died and I couldn't help for tears to pool in my eyes when I silently nodded.

He noticed how insensitive his words must have sounded. "I apologize, I didn't mean to upset you."

"Do you know about the case?" Ryan asked.

Tivon's full attention shifted back to my husband. "I believe almost every attorney in Illinois followed this case closely. Personally, I found the sentence appalling and was not convinced by the negating evidence. The Deputy State's Attorney who handled the case is one of my clients and we discussed the trial on a few occasions. The girl seems pretty messed up and I can't blame you for not wanting your grandchild to grow up in this type of environment."

I cleared my throat and all eyes landed on me. "So, do you think we can win?" My voice was slightly shaking after Ryan gave me a murderous look. Speaking up like this would have some serious consequences.

Tivon's smile was courteous. "I'm pretty certain you'll get some type of visitation, but custody will be tough. You'll have to prove that the mother is unfit and that it will be in the child's best interest to live with you. It'll work in your favor that she is single and you have a stable marriage, but that alone won't be enough. It would be ideal if she violated probation and went to prison. This would greatly increase your chances."

Ryan's forehead wrinkled and I was sure he was already scheming how to help matters along. "Four years is a long time."

"It is," Tivon confirmed. "And given her age, the odds are against her. She is bound to slip up sooner or later, plus the demands of motherhood will be brutal. Yet, you still need to catch her in the act."

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