Monday was non-stop from the moment we left the house. Our usual weekly meeting ran over by twenty minutes and lunch was deemed dead in the water the moment James Michaels made an appearance. Spencer, Scott and I all blindly followed him into the privacy of the meeting room and waited silently for further instruction.
“Mr Michaels,” started Cora, gaining the attention of all three men. “Roger has arrived.”
“Send him in,” replied James, confirming he was indeed the intended Mr. Michaels on this occasion.
He caught me looking and cleared his throat in an attempt to explain. “I’ve asked Roger to join us in our meeting today. We need to talk strategy and he’s a valuable player in our defence.”
“Agreed,” imputed Scott, likely caught up on the situation.
A moment later, Roger walked in wearing his usual trouser/ sweater-vest combo and by his side hung a huge laptop case. “Hi all.”
I smiled. “How are you?”
He carefully positioned the bag on the table and brought out his beloved laptop. “I’m good. Making positive progress, so consider this nerd happy.”
Scott laughed and held out his hand. “We’ve not met. I’m the other brother.”
“Scott, right?” He paused. “I’m Roger, nice to meet you.”
Smiles were shared and pleasantries were passed, creating a relaxing atmosphere throughout. All in all, Roger seemed relatively chirpy and because of that, so was I. Yesterday, when vomiting, I’d blamed the McDonalds milkshake but I had a feeling my stress levels were somewhat responsible. The closer we got to Alister returning from his trip, the more my nervous system suffered.
“Shall we start with you Roger?” Began James, taking charge and commanding the room. “What can you tell us?”
Roger nodded and brought his laptop to life, seemingly needing it as part of his update. “I’ve managed to access Alister’s emails and found the correspondence between him and Malcolm Reynolds.”
“That’s good right?” delighted Scott.
Roger pressed a few buttons and removed his glasses, soothing away what looked to be a sudden headache with his spare hand. “Yes and no.”
“Why both?” questioned Spencer, reading into his tone and taking that to mean something negative.
“Yes, because we have substantial evidence that he’s been tampering with the court case.”
“And no because…” I prompted, struggling to understand why we couldn’t end this entire fiasco right now.
“Hacking into someone’s private emails is illegal. If we present this evidence as it stands, I’ll be facing a prison sentence for sure.”
What the hell?
“Roger!” I scorned, prompting guilt to shadow his features. “You shouldn’t have done that for us. That’s incredibly irresponsible.”
“Relax, Jessica. I’m good at my job. No one can trace it back to me.”
“Still!” I insisted. “No more illegal activities. I can’t risk this ruining your life.”
“There’s no need for me to do anymore digging. We’ve got what we need,” he ensured, returning his attention to the screen.
Spencer took it upon himself to interrupt, likely as confused as the rest of us. “How? If we can’t use it?”
“That’s where Jessica comes into it,” explained Roger, catching me off guard.
I didn’t like the sound of this.
“Spencer tells me you’re in contact with his fiancée, correct?”
“Isy? Yes,” I replied, although I had yet to respond to her latest text.
We kept our back and forth relatively simple, sticking to the odd ‘How are you?’ and ‘Keep me updated on any news.’ So far, there was nothing new to report but I suspected that was all about to change.
“If we can get her to find and print the email conversation, that would be better. That way, we can use it and no one need know about my hacking.”
“You want Isy to snoop?” I asked, slightly amused this was his genius plan.
“It seems a little mediocre but if you think about it, it makes the most sense. She does live with him, after all.”
“And it’s not unusual for her to accidentally come across them,” added Scott, seemingly onboard with this idea. “Alister will be none the wiser until it’s too late and nothing gets traced back to Roger. It’s a win/ win situation.”
“Provided she finds the emails?” I asked, acting rationally.
If, for whatever reason, Isy didn’t find them, where would that leave us?
“Exactly,” replied Roger, offering me a sympathetic expression. “Lucky for us, I’ve attained his password and login details. All Isy has to do is log into his account. The rest is simple.”
“It’s that easy, is it?” enquired Spencer, thinking something had to give.
Roger and James shared a brief glance, unnerving me in their doing so.
“Not exactly. There is a catch.”
“It has to be his laptop and that’s currently with him in Scotland.”
“So, we have to wait until he comes back.”
“NO! Absolutely not!” stressed Spencer, almost laughing. “I’m not having Leila under the same roof as him. Besides, that’s unfair on Isabelle. The man is beating her up for fuck’s sake!”
My man had a valid point.
“Spencer,” urged James, leaving his chair to appropriately respond. “We wouldn’t be suggesting this if there was any other way but there isn’t.”
“Bull shit there isn’t,” he argued, standing from his chair. “There has to be something else we can do? Anything but that.”
“What if we could ensure Leila was out of the house when he returned?” interrupted Scott, desperate to appease the situation.
“That still doesn’t solve the issue of Isabelle being there,” he replied, shaking his head. “We can’t expect her to do this.”
“Isy is a grown woman, Spencer,” I intervened, silencing the room. “She’s as desperate as you are to resolve the issue. If this gets him out of her life for good, she’ll do it.”
“And how do you suppose we keep Leila away without him growing suspicious?” he asked, still not onboard with this plan.
“Italy!” I delighted, instantly feeling the confused gazes of all four men on me.
“Erm…what?” pressed Scott, seeking clarification.
I clearly hadn’t explained myself properly throughout all my excitement. “Take her to Italy.”
“And tell Alister what?”
I thought for a moment, needing them to be onboard with my suggestion.
“Isy can tell him she’s with friends. I doubt he’ll show much interest and as long as your name remains out of the picture. He shouldn’t grow suspicious.”
“This could actually work…” offered Scott, straightening up in his chair. “It’s half term for schools next week. We can create a fake camping trip or something. If Isy mentions it over the phone the next time she speaks to him, it’ll seem more believable.”
“Plant the seeds, you mean?” asked Roger, seemingly impressed.
James nodded. “Jessica can clue Isabelle in on the plan and we’ll arrange the trip. So long as Spencer gives us the go ahead.”
My attention turned to Spencer, awaiting his final word before springing into action. He seemed at odds with himself. Conflicted by the idea of sending a violent man to live with his ex-wife. Sure, it was only temporary but that didn’t matter. It was a risk and I understood completely his dilemma.
“Only if Isabelle is comfortable. I’ll take Leila to Tuscany with me and Calvin. Scott, you remain home as planned.”
“Perfect,” stated James, concluding things on his end.
“Here are his login details,” interrupted Roger, passing me a scrap piece of paper. “Sorry for the in-formalities. Handwritten notes cannot be traced back to me.”
“I’ll let Isy know,” I ensured, gaining a sense of excitement.
With a solid plan in motion, I felt much better moving forward. So much so, I allowed myself the pleasure of looking to the future. Little Leila came springing to mind, making me more determined than ever. Everything fell into prospective when I imagined her smiling face. All the suffering, the stress and the deceiving. It was worth it for her happiness.
“In fact, I’ll call her now,” I insisted, straightening up.
I shot all four men a smile and kissed Spencer on the head, making my exit shortly after. In the privacy of my office, I rang Isy and found myself waiting only two rings before she picked up?
“Hey, you okay?”
“I am okay,” she revealed, unconvincing by all means. “How are you? It is all over the television…”
She was talking about mine and Spencer’s recent appearance in the news.
“We’re okay,” I replied, truly meaning that.
“He said he had nothing to do with leaking the information,” she explained, sounding worried. “Who else could have done this?”
“Spencer,” I admitted, thoroughly expecting the silence that followed.
It was obvious she was surprised. “Spencer? Why?”
“He wanted control of the situation.”
She laughed a little, seemingly amused. “I suppose that makes sense.”
I began tidying up a few messy files on my desk, needing some sense of order in my office. “I take it he’s been in touch then?”
“He calls most nights,” she replied, somewhat pained. “Please tell me you have news. I am not sure how long I can keep up my happy act.”
“It’ll be over with soon, Isy.” I explained, taking a moment to gather my thoughts. “We just need you to do one thing for us…”
By the time I made it back to the meeting room, Roger was gone. I wasn’t surprised, given how long Isy and I had been talking. Understandably, she was reluctant to play a part in our plan but eventually gave in once I talked some sense into her.
“All sorted?” asked Scott, a little apprehensive.
I nodded. “She’s onboard with Spencer taking Leila to Italy for a few days. I talked her into looking through his computer. She was reluctant at first.”
“Understandably,” acknowledged James, loosening his tie. “Can you boys give me a moment alone with Jessica, please.”
His instruction was slightly abrupt and caught Spencer and Scott off guard, though luckily, they obliged. I was gifted a quick kiss from my man on his way past and before I knew it, James and I were left alone.
“I admire you, Jessica.”
Wow. I hadn’t been expecting that.
He laughed and took to completely removing his tie, seemingly over today’s formalities. “You’re facing a lot being with my son.”
“Spencer isn’t the only one who brings baggage to the table,” I insisted, meeting his eye. “I have a past too, remember?”
“Yes, but your past is not currently threatening your future,” he replied.
I smiled. “I love him. And his daughter. That’s reason enough for my involvement.”
James shot me a grin in return, perching himself at the edge of the desk. “And for that, I want to say thank you.”
I frowned, not needing his gratitude.
“I know I don’t need to say that but I want to. You’ve saved my son, Jessica and I can’t put into words how grateful I am for your presence in his life. And Leila’s too. I know my granddaughter will be safe with you looking out for her.”
“I’m glad to welcome you into the family. I’ve no doubt your future with Spencer involves marriage and kids but as far as I’m concerned, the second you put my family’s needs before your own was the moment you became a daughter to me.”
“Oh, God.” Before I could talk myself down, I launched forward and wrapped my arms around his waist, so appreciative of his words. “Thank you.
I attempted to keep my tears at bay but couldn’t help the odd one from free-falling. His acceptance of me meant the world. So much had happened to me since meeting Spencer. I no longer felt like my old, narrow-minded self and only had my new friends and family to thank for that. Often, I doubted my abilities as a parent and still did to some extent. Fighting for Leila had become somewhat second nature to me and although a strain, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d always fight for her if need be. For both of them. Forever.