Driving Forces Chapter 14
Tomorrow begins our fight. Tomorrow, we go to court and begin our journey of proving that the first judgment of taking Tanya’s rights away was the right one. Finding out that Tanya tried to talk to Emma after our first date, which violated the protection order, put Edward on a mission. He gave me permission to do an in-depth digging into their past.
I hired a private detective to help with gathering information to prove that Tanya was dangerous and abusive without the drugs. It doesn’t seem that it's going to be a hard sell considering some of the things I’ve found out about Ms. Tanya Denali.
The first thing we discovered was that her parents hired their own detective to find out where Emma and Edward are living, where he works, and where she goes to school; they also attempted to dig into my past to try to find something they could use against me.
The next thing we did was look up Tanya’s school records, trying to establish a pattern of behavior so that it’s easier to prove that Tanya was abusive before she began taking drugs. What I found out was shocking. She had six different restraining orders taken out on her since the age of thirteen. She had to be placed in four different schools because of her stalker-like behavior toward boys, and she was charged with assault twice as a teenager. Add in the hospital visits and videos from Carmen, and we had Tanya nailed.
I didn’t really gather much on Edward because I don’t think it’ll be necessary. With Tanya breaking the restraining order and all the other evidence I’ve gathered, we’re going to bury Tanya so deep there isn’t anything they could say to make Edward look bad.
“No, no.” Edward tosses and turns next to me, moaning in pain.
I hum as I run my fingers through his hair. He tosses his arm over my stomach and cuddles into my side. Edward’s body loosens up and his face smooths out. His lips part and in a low whisper I hear, “Bella.”
I bury my smile in his hair, unable to believe he’s mine.
The date he planned for us was like nothing I‘d ever been on. Not that Jake and I really dated. We were so young when we got together, we didn’t really do date nights between school and work. Being with Edward, though, is as easy as breathing. We just click. He’ll be cooking, and I can give him what he needs before he asks. Even though it’s only been a couple of weeks, it doesn’t feel that way.
Not that it’s always sunshine and rainbows. One time we were kissing and the moment my hands moved from his shoulders down his arms to the bottom of his shirt, his body froze and he pulled away quickly. He was shaking and breathing heavily.
“Edward.” I kept my voice low, worried that I’d crossed a line that would cause him a setback.
Letting out a shaking breath, he answered, “I think it’s best if I, um, go to bed.” He nervously ran his hands through his hair and wouldn't meet my gaze.
I learned to just keep my hands over his clothing and mostly on his arms.
As I feel myself begin to drift off, I hear little feet against the floor. Peeking one eye open, I see Emma standing next to the bed clutching her wolfy.
Clearing the sleep out of my throat, I say, “Emma bear, what’s wrong, sweetie?”
Tears stain her cheeks. “I had a bad dream.”
Edward jerks awake at the sound of Emma’s voice. “Emma?”
“Daddy.” Emma climbs into bed and reaches for Edward. He pulls her in and hugs her tight.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asks.
I curl up next to her, creating an Emma sandwich as she shudders.
“She won the court stuff and took me far away from you and Bella.”
My heart shatters at her dream. I kiss the top of her head as Edward squeezes her tight against his chest. “That’s never going to happen, Emma. I would die first.” I might be telling Emma with words, but I look into Edward’s eyes, hoping that he understands how serious I am.
Edward closes his eyes, nodding his head. “You want to sleep with Daddy and Bella tonight?”
She pulls the covers over us and snuggles in. “Thank you, Daddy.”
I can’t help but chuckle as I adjust myself to accommodate our new bedmate. It isn’t long before their soft snores fill my bedroom. I take a deep breath as my brain works out every scenario for tomorrow.
Before we left this morning, the air was thick around everyone. Edward got sick twice before we got in the car. Emma cried and clung to Edward. Ollie helped Alice calm her enough, so we could leave. Alice and Claire volunteered to stay and watch the kids as the rest of the family came to the courthouse with us as support.
There isn’t any fanfare like you see in movies. Even though our last name is rather infamous, no press is here. As we walk into the courthouse, I see Tanya standing with her parents and a new lawyer. My entire family surrounds Edward as we’re forced to walk past them, so he doesn’t have to be near her.
Her new lawyer tops the cake. James Hunter graduated from the same class as me, but whereas I was at the top of our class, he was the third. I’m honest and hardworking while he only works hard at cheating the system to get his wins.
“Cullen.” My name rolls off his tongue and I feel like I need a shower.
Tanya gazes at me with her soulless eyes as she touches James’s arm in a sensual way. “Mr. Hunter, we better get in there.”
He smirks, making me roll my eyes. He’s just as sleazy as ever. “Yes, we should.”
The disgusting display tells me everything I need to know. It’s going to be that much more satisfying when I eat them alive.
Edward is still surrounded by my family as his shield as we head inside the courtroom. I take his hand into mine and look deep into his eyes. “I’m about to be aggressive, but it’s all aimed at them.” I nod my head in the direction of Tanya and her entourage.
Edward gives a shaky nod of his head.
Kissing his cheek, I say, “Let’s bury her alive.”
With one swift nod, he sits down. The rest of the Cullen clan sits down, making sure they’re close to Edward and me. The court clerk calls our case number to stand as the judge begins her readings.
“Denali vs Swan, in the matter of establishing new custody between the parties,” she reads, her eyes scanning the files.
We take our places at our respective tables. James unlatches his briefcase and pulls out some paperwork, wearing a slimy smirk on his face. I get all my folders out, waiting for the judge to say we may be seated and begin.
“We’re sure there’s no way this can be settled with mediation?” Judge Flores asks as she looks up from underneath her glasses.
“Mr. Swan didn’t even ask if that was an option,” James answers in his sickly sweet voice.
Keeping my anger under control, I answer coolly, “Your honor, Mr. Hunter’s client had her rights terminated after she attacked and nearly killed Mr. Swan—”
“She was high as a kite and had no idea what was going on during the trial.”
As I was about to begin arguing with him the judge put up her hand. “And that is a no for possible mediation to resolve the problem.” Her eyes bounce back and forth with a calculating stare. “I am going to hear from you both in due time. Mr. Hunter, why don’t you begin.”
I sit down in my hair, crossing my legs and keeping my eyes on the judge. I’m trying to gauge her expressions to see what her feelings are about this situation. No judge is ever completely impartial.
James spins this tale of how Tanya was just lonely from Edward being gone all the time and always taking Emma with him. “Tanya was depressed. If we were to truly break it down and diagnose it, I would say it was postpartum depression that never was treated, and it got worse as the years went on.”
Edward tenses next to me, but I put my hand on his arm. Leaning in, I whisper, “It’s all a lie, Edward. It’s a tactic they’re trying to use. Don’t worry, babe, I’m going to shut it all down when it's my turn to present.”
Lowering his head, he gives me a small nod. In my gut, I just know he’s questioning everything that happened to see if he missed anything.
James continues painting this picture of Tanya as the victim. From the judge’s face, I don’t think she believes a word of it. She glances down at the files in front of her as he speaks.
“She did her time in jail, she went to counseling, and did a rehab program. All of this was completed with flying colors, not to mention she took parenting classes to become a better mother. Your Honor, she deserves to have the chance that was taken away from her.” James takes a seat, unable to resist giving me his slimy smirk.
“Ms. Cullen,” Judge Flores calls on me to begin my case.
Sighing and cocking my eyebrow at the judge, I say, “It’s an interesting story, Your Honor. It’s touching, and almost believable.” I gather my stack of affidavits, testimonies, hospital documentation, and Carmen and Eleazar’s notes.
“But that’s all it was; a story. Ms.”—I swallow the vomit that threatens to emerge—“Denali doesn’t have any evidence to back up her story.” Making a lot of noise to stack and tidy my folders full of evidence, I then hold them in the air for everyone to see. “This is evidence. These are hospital records, testimonies, and counselors’ notes. Edward Swan was just a man who wanted to make sure his daughter had everything she needed, and that she was happy and healthy. He worked two jobs, sometimes three, to support them. Long before Tanya began doing drugs, she was abusive. She was controlling.” I pass the large stack of documents into the clerk’s hands, who in turn hands them to the judge.
“Ms. Denali did complete everything she was supposed to, but under extreme protest. She failed multiple drug tests throughout the program. She didn’t pass until the last three months of her time in jail.” I turn to her, giving her a smirk. Her face is all different shades of red and purple. “The parenting classes that Mr. Hunter speaks of; yes, Ms. Denali attended them, but she did not pass. In fact, the teacher of said class was worried about her and wrote that she prays that Ms. Denali never has the chance to be a mother.”
The judge looks through everything, her expression morphing into one of disgust.
“Your Honor, not only should Ms. Denali never have custody of Emma Swan, but she should never be allowed within a thousand feet of her.” With that, I take my seat.
The judge takes her glasses off and rubs her eyes. “I’m going to sift through this paperwork. Court is in recess. Come back in one hour.” She bangs the gavel and gathers up everything, leaving through the door to her chambers.
I turn and smile at Edward, but his eyes are behind me where everyone can hear her.
“What the fuck was that? How can she have all that?” She stands up so quickly the chair hits the railing hard, making a loud sound that causes Edward to jump.
I take his hand and look directly into his eyes so he’ll focus on me. “It’s okay, Edward, she can’t hurt you anymore.”
He brings my hand up to his face, using it as a lifeline. “She can’t have her,” he whispers.
“She’s not going to get her.”
“Got a staring problem?” My sister’s voice breaks my bubble with Edward.
I turn to see Tanya glaring at Edward and me. Rose moved into her line of sight, her arms crossed over her chest as she confronts Tanya.
Tanya rolls her eyes and walks away with her parents and James.
Rose turns to us. “I was about to slap that bitch into next week.”
Edward laughs, shocking me a bit before I join him. “Let’s get something to eat before the judge gets back,” I tell them.
After the short break, we return to the courtroom and Judge Flores takes her seat. We all sit after she does.
Her eyes bounce back and forth between us and over to them. When her eyes reach them, pure revulsion takes over her features. “I don’t know why your request even made it as far as me.” She shakes her head. “I’m not even going to get into how disgusted I am with your client, Mr. Hunter. What I will say is, I am denying Ms. Denali’s request for custody. The child will stay in the custody of Mr. Swan. There will also be a restraining order placed against Ms. Denali until the child is eighteen and can decide for herself. Court is adjourned.”
“What?” Tanya screeches.
Edward jumps up, taking me with him. “She’s mine.”
“She’s yours.” I smile and laugh.
My family rallies around us, laughing and hugging. All the stress wrapped around Edward is gone.
“No! This wasn’t supposed to happen!” Tanya yells.
Edward ignores her as he shakes my dad’s hand. I watch her, though. I wait for her eyes to land on me. When they do, I smile and turn away, knowing she’s watching as I pull Edward to me and speak intimately into his ear.
“I think we have a little girl waiting for us at home.”
His smile takes my breath away. “Yes, we do.”
We don’t look back; we go home to be with our girl. We have some very good news to share with her.