Casey tried to control his nerves as he walked towards the door to the law office. He was thankful that his brother Robert was meeting him here, glancing around he smiled in relief seeing his brother walking towards him.
“You ready for this?” Robert asked giving him reassuring smile patting him on the back.
Casey tried to return the smile but found he couldn’t. He was too nervous contemplating what the lawyer would tell him, shrugging “as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Entering the office, Casey extended his hand “Mr Greene I’m Casey Bennett.”
“And this is?” the lawyer waved at Robert.
“Oh this is my brother, Robert,” Casey said in introduction.
“Ah yes you’re the one I spoke with on the phone,” Mr Greene said extending his hand. “So how can I help you?” he asked sitting down.
“Well um …” suddenly tongue-tied Casey didn’t know what he wanted to say. Taking a deep breath, steadying his nerves he tried again “my fiance left my infant son alone with a note stating how she didn’t want to be a mother anymore. I was hoping you could help me ensure she doesn’t come back later and try to take my son away from me.”
“I take it your fiance is the biological mother of your son?” the lawyer asked.
“Yes if you call someone who leaves their baby alone for hours a mother, then yeah she is.”
“May I see the note?” the lawyer asked ignoring the belligerent attitude Casey displayed.
Reaching in his pocket, taking out a well-worn crumpled piece of paper and handed it to the lawyer. After a moment of silence while the lawyer read and reread it Mr. Greene looked up “do you mind if I have a copy made of this?”
“No make as many as you need,” Casey told him.
Coming back into the office the lawyer handed Casey a copy “we’ll need the original on file in case we need to go to court.” Sitting down Mr. Greene said “tell me about your relationship with your fiance. How you met, when you met, where … that sort of thing so I can see the full picture.”
This was the moment Casey dreaded. The moment he had to admit to being an idiot. His reluctance must hae shown on his face. “It’s alright son, I’m not here to judge you. But the more you tell me the better I can do my job.”
“Alright,” Casey sighed giving in “we met in college.”
“Was it an exclusive relationship?” Mr Greene prompted.
“Not at first. We each saw other people.” A small smile tugged at Casey’s lips as he recalled memories for his college days.
Mr Greene observed it “I can imagine, I was once that age and I remember my college days.” Breathing a little easier Casey relaxed, feeling more at ease. “When did the relationship become exclusive?”
“When Hannah told me she was pregnant,” running his hands through his hair “I told her I would take care of her and the baby.”
“Did you discuss alternatives to having the baby?”
“You mean abortion right?” Casey scowled at the thought “Hannah from the start wanted to terminate the pregnancy, even asking for money to get an abortion. I’m the one who wanted to have the baby. She only agreed when I asked her to marry me.”
“You never told me that,” Robert said shocked at the revelation.
“Why would I?” Casey dropped his head into his hands. “Why would I want to be reminded that I agreed to marry someone so that they wouldn’t kill my baby?”
“I think you dodged a bullet.” Both Casey and Robert jumped in surprise at those words. The lawyer smiled at them “I believe Hannah had ulterior motives to marrying you other than to have someone care for her unwanted child. It’s obvious that she thought your family had money and she thought she’d be able to cash in on it.” Raising his hand to forestall any objections he continued “I see it all the time. Your family has a certain notoriety around here and you can’t make a move without it being reported on in the news. You’re our very own celebrity family in these parts.”
“That doesn’t mean we have money,” Casey grumbled.
“True but many people cash in on this kind of fame all the time. I’m sure this young lady figured she could talk you into selling your story to the tabloids or a movie producer.”
“How did you know?” Casey asked bewildered.
Shrugging “I guessed,” Mr Greene leaned back from his desk. “I’ve been around and I’ve seen it all. Hannah fits the profile. When did you tell her no?”
“The night of our engagement party. She wanted to ask dad to agree to let me sell my story. It’s more his than mine and if he wanted everyone to know the whole story it would have to be his decision. He’s been under a lot of stress lately, I told her under no circumstances was she to approach the subject with him.”
Robert nodded agreeing with his brother, remembering the argument he had witnessed between Hannah and Casey that night. Casey continued “Hannah became unreasonably angry over it and said I was being unfair.”
“When was the party?”
“Last week,” Casey replied “I guess that was the beginning of the end.”
“Can’t argue with that,” Mr. Greene leaned forward “how did she treat your son?”
“Not well,” Casey swallowed hard as he remembered how she treated Edward, her son. “Not like a new mom would. She never picked him up, cuddled him or any of the things you would expect. It was almost like Eddie irritated her.”
“You suspected she was neglecting him while you were at work?”
Nodding Casey looked down at his feet “yes. I’d come home and he’d be screaming shut away in the bedroom, starving, wet and frantic.” Rubbing his eyes trying hard to remove the ugly images from his mind. “Hannah would be in the living room, ear buds in deaf to his cries.”
“Ok I’m beginning to get the picture,” Mr Greene smiled at Casey radiating confidence. “We’ll start proceedings and declare Hannah an unfit mother on grounds of neglect and child endangerment. Then we can proceed to declaring you sole custodian for your son.” Getting up he shook hands with Casey than Robert “cheer up, you’ve done the right thing by coming to me. Most of the time in cases like this the mother never comes back and if she does she’ll be facing jail time for her crimes.”
“Thank you Mr. Greene,” Casey said before leaving “you’ve set my mind at ease.”
Walking outside to his parked car Casey waved goodbye to Robert. Getting in the car he sat behind the wheel reviewing what was discussed in the lawyer’s office. It wasn’t what he’d expected but he was glad he listened to his brother and kept the appointment. Sighing as he backed out of his parking spot he couldn’t help but feel that Eddie was the one who lost in all of this. Because of Hannah’s selfishness Eddie was robbed of his mother. Part of Casey wished he could shield his son from ever knowing his mother had abandoned him.