Billionaire's Peeping Piper

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LI. The End Case

My eyes went around the environment. Somehow, we ended up at the location of the court. It’s in the city. You would think that a case like this would be handle at a local court, but this case is anything but normal. They had a highly respected (corrupted) and highly paid (bribed) judge flew in.

The city is still the same from when we visited. There’s tall buildings all around us and the birds are too heavy to even spread their wings.

Quietly, Jackson held my hand and lead me inside the building. The lawyers were waiting in the front, and they trailed towards us. There wasn’t a need for any talks if nothing new had happened.

Everyone stopped.

Everything is the same as before, from the well cleansed hallway to the neatly painted door. On the other side was Harrison with what seem to be a small group of lawyers. They seem confidence. Then again, if I never lose a court case before in my life, I would be as confident as them.

But, our sides wasn’t any less.

“Piper,” Harrison called my name. “How are you?”

Much better if I didn’t have to be here.

Maybe it’s the fact that this case had been dragged on to what feels like forever, but I wasn’t as anxious compared to the first time.

I analyzed Harrison with more depth and less anger. His grey hair is refined, but he looks like he’s about to kick the bucket any second. Somehow, the longer I look at him, the more sorry I feel for him.

I shouldn’t.

He’s here to take my children away from me.

But, then I remember his files.

Harrison Hanson lives in a house all by himself. Him and his wife wasn’t divorced but they aren’t together. After his wife left, so did Emerson.

“You’re the one who raised Emmy,” I said. “If he was here, what would he think about the situation?”

Despite everything that is happening, it would sound weird that I’m bring up this topic. But, I’m curious about Harrison’s thoughts.

After a moment of silence, Harrison responded: “Ridiculous.”

It seems like Harrison knew Emerson better than I assumed. That’s right. Emerson would think this whole situation is ridiculous. He wouldn’t scream like I did, but he would silently judge in the background.

“But, would we still be in this situation if Emerson was here?” After months of pondering, a question stated to appear. Harrison said he didn’t approach us because he didn’t know about our existence.

But, he never mention how long he knew about us.

What if he knew about Emerson’s existence prior to his disappearance?

“You’re a perceptive young woman, aren’t you?”

“Perceptive enough to know you’re attempting to change the topic. Yes.”

The large double door opened, “The judge is ready for you.”

Harrison turned his cane to make way into the room.

“You didn’t answer my question,” I said.

He halted and his eyes waiver towards, “Sometimes,” he said in a low voice, “questioning other actions may result in discomforting responses.”

“Usually,” I didn’t bother to lower my voice, “I don’t care what others do. Everyone have the right to make their own decisions. It’s your life. But, when you start messing with my family.” I inch closer, “I care. I care alot.”

“However, to what extend?” Harrison’s eyes did not waiver from mine. When they call us once more, Harrison turned towards the court room. “Best of luck.”

I would be lying if I said that converstation didn’t make my heart skip several beats. Then again, I did hold my breath several times.

Inside the courtroom wasn’t a single chair like last time, but five. Jackson and Matt pulled some strings and was able to bring more judges into the court. Even if one isn’t on our side, we have four others. I only need to majority rule.

All judges no jury.

I’ve never serve in jury before since I was lucky to not get summon, but from what I know, the case I’m in isn’t a typical one.

The lawyers gave me a brief explanation of what will happen. Its conducted the same way as the first meeting. All the evidence has been present and the judge has explained the law to a jury. However, there isn’t a jury here. If there isn’t a jury, the judge or rather judges makes a decision.

Once I sat on the wooden chair, my brain shut down.

I clearly know why - fear and anxiety.

I didn’t feel it earlier, but I do now. “All rise,” the man said. I stood up, “The court is now in session.”

The judges walk in, sits down, and tell everyone to be seated. He lifted his circular lenses and clear his throat. I tried to listen to his explaintion, but for some reason, my brain couldn’t intake the words. It’s as if my mind is filtering everything in the room.

It gets blurry.

I know the lawyer on our side is presenting our case. Then, the other side went. Each word was sharp and vicious without any wiggle room.

There isn’t a clock or window inside the room.

I don’t know what time it is.

Maybe time is passing slowly or maybe its speeding by.

I’m not sure.

Our lawyer raise his voice.

So, did the other.

The judge would pound his gallop more than a few times throughout the session.

I tugged on the hem of my sleeve and it tore. I wonder if anyone heard it. My eyes travelled around the room, and everyone was either scattering through papers or bickering with one another.

Harrison.

Our eyes met.

Unlike me who was entirely anxious, Harrison was calm.

When I felt someone’s hand, my body jolted. I move my sight towards the person on my left. “What?” I whispered.

“10 minutes recess,” Jackson said.

I nodded slowly.

“Let’s go get you something to eat real quick.”

I shook my head.

“I won’t take no for answer,” Jackson responded. He stood up and held out a hand. I placed my palm on his and realized how moist it is - how shaky it is. He’s anxious too.

Jackson turned his body and walked out of the court room. Once we’re in the halfway, he speed into a room. Inside the empty room, he exhaled a sharp breath.

Jackson lean against the table.

“Nervous?” I chuckled awkwardly.

He smiles softly, “You know. I thought I would be used to this by now.” Jackson spent years fighting his parents for Abby’s custody. “But, I realize it seems to be something you can never get use to.” Being here must had brought back some nasty memories for him.

I watch as he shoved his face into his hands. “What am I doing? I’m sorry.”

What’s there to be sorry about?

Is he apologizing for his emotions?

One step after another, I made my way towards Jackson. His face was still buried in his hands. Steadily, I reached for his wrist, pull it down, and held him against my chest.

In the end, I didn’t get to eat.

Back into the court room, my name was called. I walk forward and settle down on the chair. For some odd reason, I felt like I did something wrong - like I committed a crime.

My eyes went around the room until it met with the color blue.

He smiles.

It was a much needed reassurance.

One question after another, Harrison’s lawyer was fierce. He wasn’t backing down - waiting for me to slip up. My answer was brief, truthful, and vague.

The lawyers taught me to never lie, but to also never explain my answers. Once you start explaining, you’ll slip up, create a new path for the enemy.

“According to your past records-” I cannot believe they’re mention about my past.

My lawyer stood up and intervened.

The judge whispered.

They’re on my side.

My present self shouldn’t be judge by my past.

Then, it came. The dreaded topic - single mother. We live in the 20th century and people still question whether or not a person can raise children by themselves. Why does it have to be two people?

My lawyers attacked Harrison and how he’s alone.

But, somehow, they revived the situation on their end. Harrison’s wife entered the courtroom. Even with her grey hair and wrinkles, I can tell she used to be a beauty when she was younger. Gracefully, she walked down the lane and settled beside Harrison.

Apparently, they will raise my children together.

And for some goddamn corrupted reason, the judge agree with them. Children do need two parental figure in their lives.

Then, my lawyers question them.

Their grandparents...not the children’s parents.

The longer I was in the courtroom, the heavier my chest feels.

Anger, pain, sadness, disappointment - all intertwined.

Anger at the man couple in the courtroom.

Pain and sadness at the thought of losing my children.

Finally, disappointment in the justice system.

This case shouldn’t even had pass.

Who are they to judge my parenting skills?

To decide whether or not I get to keep my children.

Another recess.

I’m not surprised if it’s dark outside.

In the hallway, Jackson handed me a water bottle. That’s not a good idea.

“Anger-” a voice appeared from my side, “will only lead to-”

I walked away.

I don’t have to stand there and listen to a crazy near death old man.

The plastic of the bottle churning made it’s way into the room. There is a scream inside of me and it desire to make it’s way out of my mouth.

Now, all I feel is anger.

“Piper.”

I don’t need to look up to know who it is.

“My children. I cannot believe they are considering...giving my children to that man. Allow me to see them over the weekend? Bi-weekly until I get back on my feet? That’s one of the options?” Earlier the judge who was bribed by Harrison suggested that. Can he make it any more obvious?

I know what will happen, at first, Harrison would allow me to see them. Then, over time, it would lessen.

Why?

Because mommy is never around.

Resentment - its bound to grow.

Once we’re outside of the building and into a dark alley, I flung the water bottle at the wall and screech. I couldn’t do it inside the building, not with all the cameras and eyes.

The guards covered us from the main road which made the alley darker than ever.

“How could they do this?”

“Piper.”

“How could they even consider allowing him to keep my babies.”

“Pipe-”

“I was there from the beginning. I gave birth to them.”

“Pip-”

“And this man came out of nowhere and claim he has the right to take my children away from me?!”

“P-”

The tears were streaming down my face harder than ever, “And those people in there had the audacity to even consider this. What right do they have to decide where my children-”

“Piper!” Jackson’s hands tighten on my shoulders. “I know how you feel. I really do. You want to go get a fucking gun right now and shoot every single person in that room. You want to cut that man and woman into pieces; tiny unidentifiable pieces for even thinking they had the right to do what they’re doing.”

Overlap of past and present.

“But, anger, will take us nowhere right now.”

Then, what can I do? Before we left for a break, it felt like the judges had already made their decisions. And I could tell, they aren’t on my side.

“Then...what can I do?” I grabbed him by the shirt, “What else can I do? Tell me. Please, tell me."

Should I pray for their conscience to take over? For them to see past the papers in their hands. Those papers with those sentences doesn’t define me. It doesn’t show my role as a mother.

It doesn’t show the days a mother and her children went to the park to play in the fallen leaves. The dirt covering their clothes are long forgotten by the happiness in their souls.

It doesn’t show the days a mother spent to teach her daughter how to properly hold up her fingers. The smile on her face after she successfully achieve her goal.

It doesn’t show the moments a mother spent with her son and his airplanes. She had absolutely no idea how to fix one, but she’ll spend the whole night to do it.

It doesn’t show the days a mother would pat her child’s back until she fallen asleep.

It doesn’t show our lives.

But, for some odd reason, it’s what determine whether or not we can see each other.

And on the papers, it says:

The daughter is no good. Her mother can’t control her. And the result will not be up to society standards. The daughter future will be ruin if she stay with her mother.

Her son? He has hearing loss. The mother wouldn’t be able to afford his medical needs in the future.

But, if they were raised by their wealthy grandfather, it would somehow be different.

Be better.

The daughter can go to a good school. Once she graduate, she can do or become whatever she wants. There is no restriction.

The mother can’t give her that.

As for the son, he’ll get the best medical in the world. He will cruise through his life as if there wasn’t an impairment.

The mother can’t give him that.

She barely make enough to feed them.

“Mrs.Lun, is it true that you had been receiving support from outsiders.”

“My family aren’t outsiders.”

“That much is true, but what if one day, they are no longer present to provide you support? What would you do then?”

“I-”

“From what we investigated you mother had been watching the children since your husband disappearance.”

“Yes, but-”

“She had been watching them while you work from day to night.”

“Yes, but-”

“With the amount of time your mother spent on watching your children, wouldn’t you say she is the one who is raising them?”

“W-Well-”

“So, why not-” the lawyer inched closer to me, “why not give custody to Mr.Hanson? Mrs.Lun, you’re rarely at home to raise your own children and yet, you claim to raise them properly? With the amount of time missed in your childrens’ lives, do you even have the right to even call yourself a mother?”

“Mr.Martinez,” one of the guards said. “Mrs.Lun. It is time to return.”

While I was in the courtroom, I was angry, but the person I’m angry at the most in the room wasn’t Harrison, the lawyers, or judges.

It was me.

The more I listen to them, the more convincing they sound. It made me feel like Crystal and Dustin would be better off with Harrison instead of me.

But, even after everything, I couldn’t find it in myself to let go of their hands. I couldn’t imagine the days without them.

Without listening to their sweet laughter.

Without seeing their cheeky smiles.

Without feeling their warmth in my arms.

My babies.

While I walked back to the court room, a voice appeared: “Protect them. Protect them at all cost.”

Each step feels agonizingly heavy as of there were chains locked on my ankles, preventing me from moving forward.

I stop.

The hallway looks longer than usual.

The lights seem brighter than when I left.

Then, I feel it - warmth.

When I turned my head, Jackson was standing right beside me. If it was any other moment, he give me a smile of reassurance, but not now.

He’s exhausted.

We’re all exhausted.

When we entered the elevator, I said: “I would like to be alone with Jackson.”

Everyone stood their grounds.

When the elevator doors closed, I turned towards Jackson. There was a gap between us - not too large but not necessarily small. I took a step towards the buttons and press the emergency button.

The elevator stopped.

There was a light music in the background, but I could barely hear it. Everything, even time, seems to freeze inside the small box.

What I’m about to say may be the result of the instability within my mind, my desperation to hold my children until their ready to fly on their own.

“Jackson.”

When I called for him, he didn’t respond. Instead, he stared at me with this intensity that made my stomach curl.

The longer I look into the color blues, the emptier my mind seem to become. I inch closer to him, closer to the edge. But, for some reason it didn’t feel burdensome to move - to leave the spot that made me feel safe.

While I’m standing at the edge of the cliff once more, my instinct tells me to step back - to move away.

But, I didn’t move away. Instead, I look back to see two children inside their safe space.

Safe.

Yes.

As long as their safe - it doesn’t matter what happen to me.

I could feel the bottomless pit at the edge of my toes, but I didn’t stop. The sky is too blue - too beautiful. That’s right. Even if I fall, at least I get to stare at the wonderful sky while I fall.

“Jackson. Let’s get married.”

To Be Continued...

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