The Niteo Chronicles: Lies Undone

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Chapter 15

Chapter Fifteen

Past

Luke and I walked into the courthouse at 9am sharp the next morning. I held his hand tight until we found ourselves standing before the doors of Court B once again.

“Well, I guess this is where we say goodbye,” I mumbled in a low tone.

Luke placed his hand under my chin and lifted my head up so our eyes met.

“Only for a little while, my love. I will be joining you shortly; I am the first witness today.”

I couldn’t help but smile at his sweet remark, but my smile was short lived as I was reminded that Luke was mere minutes away from the same fate I had faced the past two days. He always seemed to be able to heal even my deepest hurt, but this time the hurt was caused by something he had to do, not something he could fix.

Luke leaned forward and pressed his soft lips against my forehead.

“I love you, Cassie, now and forever,” he whispered as he dropped his hand, and I turned away to enter the room I had now come to hate.

Hannah was already standing by the plaintiff table when I walked into Court B. I walked down the aisle and sat down behind the plaintiff table where Hannah was standing, going through some paperwork.

“Good morning, Cassie. How are you today?”

“Doing well,” I replied in the best lie I could. Without Luke by my side, any form of speech was difficult.

“Well that’s good. Oh, Cassie, I didn’t get a chance to talk to you afterwards yesterday, but I just wanted to tell you that you did a phenomenal job. I think the entire court was very moved by your testimony.”

“Thank you,” I mumbled.

Before I could say anything else, Judge Breelan walked in. I hadn’t noticed everyone else, including Jim and his lawyer come in. Seeing the judge again sent a nervous jolt through my body.

“We have reconvened this morning to continue the trial for case number A06775, the State of Ohio vs. James Whitlin. Our first order of business today is the interrogation of the state’s second witness, the first informed in this case,” the bailiff announced as everyone took their seats.

“At this time, Ms. Jones, you have the floor. You may proceed,” Judge Breelan announced.

“Thank you, your honor. I would like to call Mr. Luke Millson to the stand,” Hannah said quickly as she walked out to the center of the courtroom.

As soon as she finished speaking, I heard the doors at the back of the room open slowly. I looked back to see Luke making his way to the front of Court B. The bailiff swore him in, and he took his seat on the cold, hard, wooden chair of the witness stand.

“Please state your full name for the record.”

“Luke Anthony Millson.”

“When did you meet the victim?”

“About five years ago.”

“When did you and the victim enter into a relationship?”

“Four years ago.”

“How long were the two of you dating before you were informed of the crimes between Mr. Whitlin and Cassie?”

“About one year.”

“When Cassie first informed you of the crimes, did she tell you the extent?”

“Yes, she told me everything that happened.”

“What was your reaction when she told you?”

“Horror. Disgust. Anger. The worst feelings I’ve ever had.”

“Did you ask her to go to the police that day?”

“Yes. That day and almost every single day after that until she finally agreed.”

“After Cassie reported the crimes, it is my understanding that she went to live with a foster family for several months, is this correct?”

“Yes. From May 17th of her senior year through the New Year.”

“Did you see her often during that time?”

“Every single day.”

“How would you describe her mental state during that time?”

“Every time I saw her, she was sad. It took a lot of effort to put a smile on her face.”

“And you graduated the year before Cassie, correct?”

“Yes.”

“No plans for school?”

“I considered it at one point, but I decided Cassie was more important to me. I have my whole life to go to school if I want, Cassie needed me at home.”

I loved listening to Luke’s voice, but the whole time he was speaking, I was getting more and more nervous.

“Now, it is my understanding that you have basically moved in with Cassie?”

“Well, sort of, but not exactly.”

“Can you explain?”

“I stay with her a lot of nights in a guest room, and I have moved a few things to the house for when I do stay the night, but I wouldn’t consider myself completely moved in.”

“Why are the living arrangements set up the way they are currently?”

“Well, for the past few weeks Cassie has been having horrific nightmares every night. I felt it was best if I was there to comfort her when they occur.”

“What does she dream about?”

“She has flashbacks to the incidents. Cassie is still terrified of Mr. Whitlin and of her entire past life.”

Luke’s words sent chills down my back.

“Does Cassie’s mother know about the flashbacks?”

“Probably not.”

“How do you feel about Cassie’s situation with her mother?”

Luke paused before answering. This was one question he wanted to answer well.

“I think the situation is just bad all around. Her mother’s reaction was not the best she could’ve had in the situation, so I don’t blame Cassie for feeling the way she does. But I do also feel that eventually some people deserve a second chance.”

“Do you feel that Mr. Whitlin deserves a second chance?”

“I think that Mr. Whitlin has been given more than enough chances. It’s time for justice to be served.”

“Now, Luke, I assume you were introduced to Mr. Whitlin prior to Cassie telling you about her history with him?”

“Yes, about six months before.”

“What was your initial impression of the relationship between Cassie and her stepfather?”

“Almost immediately I knew something didn’t seem right between the two of them. She was jumpy and nervous around him and didn’t appear to have any confidence when she was in his presence.”

“Now, Luke, I have spent a lot of time with Cassie prior to trial, and your name has come up quite often. Do you love Cassie?”

“Yes, very much.”

“A relationship like the two of you have is rare to come by anymore, in terms of how young you were when you started dating and how long you have stayed together. Would you say the two of you share a special bond of any sort?”

“I would just say that we understand each other on a deep level.”

“Why is it, do you think, that you and Cassie have connected so well?”

Luke paused. This was it. Luke was about to reveal something I didn’t know yet judging by the look he shot at me before he began speaking again.

“Because I have also been a victim.”

I could barely keep my attention on the rest of Luke’s testimony. My list of questions for him just kept growing.

“When you say you have also been a victim, you mean that you have been through something similar to Cassie?”

“Yes.”

“Can you explain your history a little further?”

“It started when I was seven and continued until I was twelve. I was abused by an uncle of mine.”

“How did you get out of your situation?”

“I finally told my parents what was happening.”

“What happened when you told your parents?”

“My parents didn’t believe what I told them at first. They said I needed to stop making up such crazy stories.”

When I heard Luke describe his parents like that, I was in almost as much shock as when he announced that he was also a victim. His parents were such nice and generous people, opening their house to me; I couldn’t imagine them ever being so cruel to their son.

“Now Luke, I won’t ask you to go into detail regarding your abuse because I don’t feel it is relevant to this case. How were you eventually able to get your parents to believe you?”

“They happened to overhear him threatening me one day.”

“So, your uncle threatened you just like Mr. Whitlin threatened Cassie?”

“Yes.”

“What exactly did your parents hear?”

“My parents happened to get home from work earlier than their usual time, but he didn’t notice when they arrived. He had me trapped in my bedroom with the door cracked open slightly, the fatal error on his part because my bedroom happened to be right next to my parent’s bedroom.

“As they walked into the house and upstairs into their bedroom, they heard my uncle telling me, ‘See, what did I tell you? They didn’t believe you. They’re not going to either which is why you should just keep your mouth shut. It’s better for the both of us.’ After he said that, he left my room to go downstairs.”

“What happened after he threatened you that day?”

“My parents had been listening to the whole thing from their room and met him in the hallway. They finally confronted him, and they immediately took action.”

“What do you mean by they ‘took action’?”

“First, they kicked him out of the house, told him he was no longer welcome around their son.”

“What did your parents do next?”

“They pressed charges on him because I was still a minor.”

“Did you ever go to court for your case?”

“No.”

“What happened?”

“A date for trial was set, and my family was preparing, but the night before we were supposed to report to court, my uncle killed himself.”

“Do you feel as though justice was served in your case?”

“My parents eventually saw the truth, and my uncle was never able to hurt anyone else, so yes, I do feel that justice was served.”

“How do you feel that justice can be served for Cassie?”

“For Cassie, I feel as though Mr. Whitlin needs to serve time in prison and come to fully understand the severity of what he did. Knowing how he feels about everything, the fact that he pleads not guilty to everything, I think it’s clear that his heart is not in the right place.”

Hannah took her place back behind the plaintiff table.

“Thank you for your testimony, Luke. No further questions.”

“Thank you, Ms. Jones. Mr. Smith, do you have any questions for cross-examination of this witness?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“You may proceed at this time.”

“Thank you, your honor,” Mr. Smith said as he stood up and walked back out to the center of the courtroom to begin his questioning.

“Luke, what was your initial impression of Mr. Whitlin?”

“I found him to be rather intimidating. I could see right away that something between him and Cassie wasn’t quite right.”

“What exactly do you mean by not ‘quite right’?”

“The way the two of them interacted, the way he spoke to her, and treated her and the way she seemed so fearful to be around him.”

“Do you consider yourself to be a judgmental person, Mr. Millson?”

“No, I generally don’t like to form opinions about people until I’ve gotten to know a little about them.”

“Would you say that you are a good judge of character?”

“Usually I’m pretty accurate.”

“Would you say it is at all possible that your own experiences as a child influenced your opinion of Mr. Whitlin?”

“No, like I said, I don’t like to form opinions about people until I know a little about them. I have learned to keep my past separate from my current circumstances.”

“Mr. Millson, I will ask you the same question I asked Ms. Flynn: Do you consider yourself to be an honest person?”

“Generally, yes.”

“Generally meaning what exactly?”

“Well, I don’t believe anyone when they say they tell the truth in every instance. I think that everyone is guilty of lying at some point in their lifetime.”

“And this includes you, I assume?”

“At times, yes, this includes me.”

“Mr. Millson, can the court trust what you are testifying today?”

“Yes.”

“How is that possible when you just admitted that you are prone to lying? You could have just made everything up.”

“Mr. Smith, let me remind you and everyone else here that I am under oath, I would never lie while under a solemn allegiance to the truth. Added to that, what would I have to gain from lying about anything I have spoken about today? I am not in line to receive anything for my testimony.”

Luke’s words were filled with a deep commitment. There was a realness in his answer, if there was anyone that didn’t believe what he was saying, they were clearly a fool.

“Is it not possible, Mr. Millson, that your motive in speaking today is to get the justice you truly feel you lost when your uncle killed himself?”

Mr. Smith was clearly a fool.

“No, as I stated earlier, I feel justice was served in my case. That is not my motive for speaking today.”

“In that case, what would you say your motive is?”

“I love Cassie, very much. It has killed me inside to know that she has suffered so much and now to see her continuing to suffer through her nightmares and flashbacks, plagued by such constant fear, it kills me even more. My motive for speaking today is to help see that justice is served for the girl I love.”

I couldn’t help but blush a little when Luke spoke. I looked down for a minute, hoping no one would see.

“No further questions, your honor,” he said as he walked back over to the defendant’s table with the same defeated look on his face as after my cross-examination. He looked like he had just missed strike two for his at bat, one more and his case would be hopeless, I couldn’t help but smile inside.

“Thank you, Mr. Smith, and thank you, Mr. Millson. You may take your seat,” Judge Breelan announced.

Luke stood up swiftly and made his way over to a seat beside me at the plaintiff table that Hannah quietly motioned him to. It was at this point that my list of questions for him began to grow unbearable in my mind.

“We will end here for today. Everyone will reconvene tomorrow at 9am to proceed with the state’s next witnesses.” Judge Breelan’s voice echoed through the courtroom as he banged his gavel announcing our dismissal.

The drive home yesterday seemed so much faster than usual. Today seemed to take hours. My mind felt like a river overflowing its banks with questions for Luke. In our entire relationship, we had been completely honest with one another, or at least I thought we had been. I knew I had been. After hearing Luke’s big secret, I wondered if there was anything else, he had never told me.

Luke finally pulled into the driveway. We walked into the house in silence and separated into our rooms. After several minutes, I heard a faint knock of my door.

“Can I come in, Cassie?”

“Yes.” I spoke quietly.

Luke opened the door slowly and walked in, shutting it behind him as if there were other people in the house who might hear our conversation. He walked over to the bed where I was sitting with my back against the wall and my legs crossed. Luke sat beside me on the bed.

“So, what’s going through your head right now?”

I took a minute before responding. I had to carefully plan everything I said.

“Well, today was a bit of a shock.”

“I know. I want to start off by apologizing to you for that.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me? Didn’t you trust me?”

“Cassie, you know that I trust you more than anyone in this world. You mean more than life to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust you – I didn’t tell you before because I didn’t want to take anything away from your story.”

“How could you—? Why did you—?”

“Are you planning on finishing any of those questions?”

“Sorry, I’m just trying to understand how you could feel that way.”

“Cassie, I didn’t want you to be concerned about me. You needed to be focused on getting your story out, getting yourself taken care of, and I knew that my telling you my story would only hinder you from doing what you needed to do.”

“Or, maybe, it would have helped me, encouraged me. Maybe knowing that the one I love so much has been through something so similar to me would have given me more confidence to come out sooner or not be as scared about the whole process. Maybe, I would have been able to talk to you more or something.” The possibilities began flooding my mind as I spoke. The river in my head had now overflowed.

Luke wrapped his arm around me and pulled me closer to him. I leaned my head against his shoulder.

“I know that it seems like it would have made things easier if I had told you sooner, but Cassie, believe me, it is better that things happened the way they did.”

“How can you be so confident?”

Luke let out a deep breath. “Okay, Cassie, since I’m being honest today and revealing everything to you, I’ll tell you this too. When my parents finally saw the truth, finally believed me and kicked my uncle out, he went to live with some other family members, ones we obviously weren’t associating with.

“After he left, people started asking questions about why my parents suddenly decided he wasn’t welcome in our home. They tried to denounce the rumors but eventually word got out to my whole family about what my uncle had done and how horrible my parents thought he was for it. That was when, almost like magic, everyone in my family seemed to have their own stories of being victims of abuse. They all started sitting down with me individually to discuss how they completely understood exactly what I was going through.

“It was not what I wanted to hear. If anything, it only made me feel worse about everything. It made me feel like I was alone in my situation, like no one understood me. Cassie, after going through that with my own situation, I wasn’t going to do the same thing to you. I couldn’t do that to you.”

I leaned my head against Luke.

“That is so sweet. But I still wish you would have felt you could tell me sooner than you did, or least in a different way. I feel horrible that you’ve had to keep that bottled up for so long.”

“Don’t feel bad, Cassie. You’ve done nothing wrong. This was my choice, and I still think it was the right one. I mean look at how things are already turning out. You’re through the hardest part of the trial, and you’re handling it well.”

I sat back up into my original position, but I didn’t, or rather couldn’t, look Luke in the eyes this time.

“So, I am a little curious to know more about your actual story. I know you told some of it in court, but there are a couple things I’m still interested to know, if that’s alright.”

“Just ask and I’ll tell, you answered my questions when you first told me your story, so now I will return the favor.”

“Okay, did it, um, happen in the house you live in now?”

“No, I haven’t always lived in Ohio.”

“Where did you move from?”

“Washington.”

“Really, where?” I was interested in Luke’s answer because one of my dreams I had when I was younger was to go to art school out West.

“Seattle, not in the heart of the city though. I don’t remember much except that we were in a more rural part of the city. The only thing I do remember distinctly about it was that it was close to a river, I spent a lot of time at that river.”

“How old were you when you moved?”

“Thirteen by time we got here.”

“Why on earth did your parents choose to come here?” I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of anyone voluntarily moving to a place like our town.

“It wasn’t exactly by choice,” he said lightly.

“So, w-what was his name?”

“Uncle Henry.”

We both shuddered as Luke spoke. My next question was one that I knew would be awkward. I looked down, and Luke noticed.

“What is it, Cassie?”

“I have another question, but I don’t know how you’re going to take it.”

“I told you I’m fine answering any questions you have. I’ve sort of been expecting this for a long time. Please, ask whatever you want. I will answer.”

“Alright.” I sighed. “When you were on the stand, going through your story, you talked about how when you first told your parents they didn’t believe you. I’ve met your parents, plenty of times, and I know that isn’t like them to react that way.”

“So, you’re wondering what happened?”

“I guess, yeah, or what gives? I mean that is so out of character for them.”

“Okay, let me start off by telling you that you are right about my parents, how they would react and all of that. However, the parents you are describing are not the parents I was living with when all of this was happening.”

“What do you mean?”

“I was adopted.”

“Excuse me?” I asked in shock.

“It’s a complicated story. When I lived in Washington, I lived with foster parents. My biological parents had to put me up for adoption when I was born because they already had another child and they couldn’t support two children.”

“So, were you born in Washington?”

“No, according to my birth certificate, I was born around here, but my foster parents adopted me and then moved out there.”

“How old were you when you were adopted?”

“Three months. I was lucky because I didn’t have to wait long, and I didn’t get bounced around from family to family. The Carmichaels adopted me and kept me until everything happened.”

“Wow, so why did the Millsons adopt you?”

“Well, like I said, it’s sort of complicated. Let me start off by saying that after everything happened with Uncle Henry, the Carmichaels may have had a change of heart, but they still sort of blamed me for what happened.”

“What? How could they blame you?”

“They said that because I was adopted, I was the reason that all of these problems were coming to the family. They felt that if they had not made the mistake of bringing me into the family that none of the stuff between my uncle and me would have happened.”

“That is so twisted. People make me so angry sometimes.”

“I know, but that’s in the past. Anyway, the Millsons adopted me because they found their biological son and wanted me back.” Luke ended his statement sort of abruptly.

It took me a second to register what Luke’s statement meant. “Whoa, the Millsons are your biological parents? I knew it seemed weird when you said you were adopted, you look so much like them. What about Emily? Is she your biological sister?”

“Yes, she is, and actually, she is the one that helped my parents find me. They told me that at the time they had been actively searching for about six years. They were now at a point where they knew they could financially support both Emily and me, and they desperately wanted their family back together again. The problem was that the only information they had about me, was the name of the family I was adopted into. By the time my uncle killed himself, my parents had all but given up hope in finding me again, but it was Emily who happened to notice the article in the newspaper about the Carmichaels and pushed for my parents to come to Washington.

“In the article they talked all about the Carmichaels and how Henry hanged himself the night before going on trial for molesting the adopted son of his sister and brother-in-law. The article gave a little detail about when I was adopted, which is what Emily saw. She showed the article to my parents and they decided to follow the lead, figuring it would be worth one last shot if they could finally find me.

“They traveled to Seattle, to the orphanage I was adopted from and were able to get the records from my adoption. The family from the article matched exactly to the family in my record. Eventually, my parents were able to make contact with the Carmichaels and request a meeting with them. They brought up the idea of relinquishment: giving up their parental rights to me and returning the parental rights over to them. They told the Carmichaels how desperate they were to have their whole family back together.

“At that point in my life, I did go to court, just not for the situation with my uncle. The Carmichaels didn’t want to have me as their son anymore, but they still wanted a pay-out in the whole process of giving me back to my biological parents.”

What horrible people I thought to myself.

“In a three-day hearing, my parents had to prove that they were now able to take care of and support two children in their home. My father having just gotten promoted and the purchase of their new house did a lot to help their case. In the end, the courts granted my biological parents full custody of me again, the Carmichaels’ request for a pay-out for having to deal with me was denied, and I was able to go live my real family, in our house.”

“The one you live in now?”

“The very one.”

“Wow, so you’ve only known your biological parents for about eight years?”

Luke hesitated. “Yeah.”

“What is it?”

“Oh, nothing. I promise. Just thinking.”

I stopped for a minute to think about Luke’s story. I was in such amazement that this incredible person sitting next to me, who had been through so much, actually wanted to be with me, plain old me with my little story.

“Any more questions?”

“Just one.”

“Shoot.”

“How did you get over it? You said in court that learned to separate your past from your current circumstances. How did you get to that point?”

“I was hoping you would ask about that,” Luke began with a smile. “I did it through my faith. When everything first came out, I had no hope. I was depressed and even suicidal. I felt I had no reason to keep going until I was re-adopted by my biological parents.”

“They changed your mind about everything?”

“They lead me to faith. They were the first ones who taught me about forgiveness.”

“What did they tell you?” I asked with growing interest in Luke’s story.

“They started bringing me to church with them every week, and they showed me some verses from the Bible that convinced me.”

“How so?” I was suspicious yet interested. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to go back to my own faith, and the idea that Luke was able to find healing through his felt too perfect.

“The verses showed me that I was bigger than my past. They showed me a lot of verses from the Psalms that taught me about how much God loved me and that he had control over everything in my life. Before long, I found my faith, and since then I have never wanted to go back.”

“And that’s why you always talk about God?”

“Yes. When you fall in love with God the way I have, you can’t help but talk about him all the time.”

I started thinking about everything Luke was saying before I responded. I couldn’t believe God had rescued him out of a situation like mine and allowed him to feel so free. I craved that freedom more than anything in life.

“So, which Psalms convinced you?”

Luke went to get his Bible from the guest room. His entire Bible was filled with bookmarks and highlighted and underlined verses. I knew his faith was important to him, but I had never realized just how important.

He opened his Bible to the Psalms first and began reading.

“The first verse I was ever shown that got me thinking was Psalm 139:14-16. I started studying those verses and realized that God made me on purpose and with a purpose. I wasn’t an accident and my suffering was not in vain. God had a reason for allowing it all to happen.”

“What do you think the reason is?”

“Well, he’s using my story to help you now, and my experiences can help me relate to other people who are in similar situations.”

“I never thought about it that way before.”

I asked Luke for a few other verses. He flipped around and gave me as many examples as I requested. I wanted to tell him that seeing what helped him find faith was helping me; but the truth was that it was just making me depressed. I longed for the conviction he had. But I never saw it becoming part of my life. I was too jaded; too far gone for hope.

“Have you thought about forgiving your mom, or your stepfather?” Luke asked, changing the direction of our conversation.

“Former stepfather,” I quickly reminded him.

Luke’s question caught me completely off guard. I had told him about my thoughts of my mother since giving my testimony, but forgiving Jim—even my growing interest in Luke’s faith couldn’t make that an appealing idea. I looked at Luke trying to compose my distraught face, but I couldn’t before he saw everything.

“I’ll take that as a no.”

“Luke, I told you I’m thinking about it. I’m just not sure if I’m ready yet.”

“Yes, we talked a little about your mom, but I want to discuss both her and Jim.”

“Fine, if we have to talk about this, for both of them, let’s start with the one that has a fighting chance.”

“I’m guessing you’re referring to your mother?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, then…”

“Um, do you mind if I ask you a question first?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

“Were you angry with your parents for putting you up for adoption but not Emily?”

“No. I know that they only did it because they had no other choice, and Emily was already four years old when I was born, they couldn’t put her up just to keep the new baby, it would have scarred her for life.”

“Don’t you feel like you were scarred by having to live separated from them for thirteen years?”

“No, I think of it as life experiences that have helped me in other ways.”

I didn’t completely understand what Luke was referring to, but I decided not to go into it and just move on to my next question.

“Were you angry with the Carmichaels for not believing you?”

“Yes, I was angry and hurt.”

“Have you forgiven them?”

Luke paused. “Yes,” he said heavily. “I have now.”

“So, is that why you feel it’s so important for me to forgive my mom? Just because you forgave the Carmichaels you feel that I should follow your example?”

“Yes and no. Cassie, the big reason I am so in favor of forgiveness is because it is the final step of the healing process for people like you and me, who have been through these horrible crimes.”

“Maybe it was for you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be for me.”

“Cassie, look at me, please.”

I lifted my head toward Luke’s serious gaze. It was similar to the face he had worn all day in court.

“Do you remember when you told me yesterday that you felt like something inside of you was telling you that if you didn’t forgive your mother and try to repair the relationship before long, that it would be too late?”

“Yes.”

“Do you still feel that way?”

“I guess.” I did strongly but I didn’t want to admit that to Luke.

“Okay, now let’s take a completely hypothetical situation here and follow those feelings all the way through. Let’s say you decided not to forgive your mother, you decided not to work on your relationship with her ever again. But then, let’s say five, ten years down the road, you suddenly decide to change. Now you want to forgive her, now you want to make things right, but because you waited so long, the damage is done. That permanent damage between you and your mother that you feared came true. You and your mother no longer have the ability to connect to each other and repair the damage because the brokenness was there too long.”

My eyes widened as Luke spoke. Sweat beaded on my palms, and my heart pounded.

“Cassie, would you want this to happen between you and your mom?”

“No, but that is just a hypothetical story. It won’t happen. It can’t happen, can it?”

“Cassie, leave that part out. Just imagine if that story weren’t fictional. Would you be able to live like that, separated from her in a forever broken state?”

“I don’t know,” I said with heaviness.

“Let me ask you this; right now, with things the way they are between you and your mother, would you say you feel complete? Like you’re absolutely alright, you’ve got nothing missing?”

“Well, no, but…” I started to try to argue with Luke, but he stopped me to continue his speech.

“Can you imagine, if that story were to come true, feeling the way you do right now, for the rest of your life, because you waited too long to fix things?”

The way Luke spoke sounded as though he was speaking from experience. It was almost like he knew the story he told me wasn’t fictional, that it could happen if I waited too long.

I knew he was right. I knew that I needed to listen to those instincts in my head. I was still so hesitant to ever trust my mother again, or anyone who had hurt me in the past for that matter. The fear of being hurt again or even worse this time just terrified me. I was now reaching a point in which I could picture myself wanting to be her daughter again, but still, the pictures in my head showed me with my mother in the future. Luke looked over at me. It was apparent by his next question, that he could see the battle I was fighting written all over my face.

“If not now, when, Cassie? What better time than right now while you’re finally opening up to the idea”

I knew he was right. Why not now? There was nothing holding me back from forgiving my mother.

“You’re right. I’ll talk to her. Tomorrow before we leave the justice center, I will talk to my mother.”

“Thank you, Cassie.”

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