Driving Forces Chapter 18
I picked a small diner that would give us the privacy we needed, but not cramped enough that we would be uncomfortable. I sip on a cup of coffee, not really tasting it. I begin to question myself; should I really be doing this? Do I really need this closure? I’ve already spent more time with Jake than usual since he became my client.
But I keep hearing this voice that tells me I can't really move on and forgive him if I don't talk to him about our daughter and the cause of our split.
I rub my temple. This is all so complicated.
I hear the ding from the door signaling someone has arrived. I look up to see Jake. My lips pull down as I take him in. For a big guy, he looks so small, folded in on himself wearing sunglasses and a baggy sweater with the hood up. I give him a little wave, and he walks over and falls onto the bench seat across from me.
I nervously play with the cup in front of me. I’m unsure where to start.
“How’s Sarah?” he murmurs.
I sigh, thinking about the situation we’re in. Sarah is currently in temporary custody with Seth and Claire with until we get DNA results in. If she is Jake’s, then he’ll get custody, but the other guy apparently very much wants her if she turns out to be his.
Sam Uley is a small business owner in La Push who’s been sleeping with Leah on and off for the last several years. It’s already been confirmed the little boy Leah is carrying is his, and he’ll take custody when she gives birth.
Clearing my throat, I answer his question. “She’s doing good.”
He picks up a napkin and begins to tear it up. “What are the chances Sarah is mine?”
I sigh, adjusting myself in the seat. “I don't know, Jake, you’re the one who was sleeping with her for a year. You tell me.” I try not to smirk at the little jab, but I really can't help myself, and my anger is easily triggered at the mention of their affair.
His face scrunches up. “A year? No, it was, I think, a one night stand. But honestly, don't know if it was even that because I only woke up with her naked and sprawled all over me.”
My gaze takes him in and I see nothing but honesty. “Leah said you guys were having an affair for a year.”
He shakes his head. “Bitch.”
I let out a humorless chuckle. “You did leave me. You left me for her. You left me while I was still grieving for our daughter. She must not have been that big of a bitch.”
His Adam's apple bobs. “I know. The only thought I had was, I can't lose this one, too.”
I wipe away the tears that are slowly making their way down my cheeks. “Do you ever think about her? Our daughter?”
He sits up a little straighter. “I wonder what could have been. But, I really haven't had the chance. I’ve been more focused on…” He trails off, not making eye contact with me.
A sharp breath escapes between my lips. “You easily replaced our daughter for the daughter you had with Leah.”
He shakes his head. “It wasn't easy, Bella, but what was I supposed to do? I needed to be her father. I couldn't afford to just sit around mourning for a daughter I never met.”
My heart rips in two. I can’t believe what he just said to me. “I forgive you, Jake. I hope the best for you, and I will continue to be your lawyer, but I want nothing more to do with you.” I stand up, not waiting for his reply. “I’ll contact you when the results come in for Sarah.”
His mouth opens, then closes and opens again. “I’m sorry, Bella.”
Nodding my head but unable to find words, I walk away. My shoulders seem lighter along with my heart. As much as I thought I wanted Jake with me on this journey, after his words, I realize that I don’t.
On the drive home I think about my mom and the pain she’s going through. Dad is trying to hold her together every time we’re in court. I can’t image what she felt as she watched her two daughters battle it out. I never thought I would be in this position. I knew Leah had some jealousy issues with me, but what siblings don’t. I really can't fathom what’s wrong with Leah that she could hate me this much.
Walking into my house, I smell cookies and hear voices coming from the kitchen. I follow the giggles and hushed whispers until I see Edward, Emma, and Mom at the island.
“Mom, what are you doing here?” I ask, setting my things down.
Emma runs full-on at me I pick her up. I really shouldn't, she’s too big, but she’s too cute.
“Hi, Mama Bella.” Emma takes all my attention away from my mom who's shifting in her seat, playing with her purse straps. I kiss her nose. “Did you get all your cookies done?”
Emma nods her head quickly. “Yes. I’m so excited to take them to the shelter.”
I set her down. “Why don't you go play, sweetie, I have to talk to my mom.”
I feel Edward’s eyes on me as I take a seat next to Mom. I feel his hands on my back rubbing back and forth.
“How did your lunch go?” Sue asks, distracting me.
Closing my eyes, annoyed and hurt, I say, “I forgave him, but after I’m finished with his case, I don't want anything else to do with him.”
Sue grabs my hands. “Sarah is not Jake’s.” Tears begin to stream down her face.
Bewildered at her declaration, I squeeze her hands. “How could you know that? The results aren't in yet.”
She lets out a chuckle. “I went to see Leah today. She’s over in the psych wing. She told me that she never slept with Jake. She drugged him and made it look like they did. She hoped that Jake would leave you, thinking they had a one night stand. When that didn't work, she slept with Sam to get pregnant.”
My eyes close and my hands pull away as I shake my head back and forth. “I don’t understand.” I open my eyes, looking at my mom, who’s wiping her tears away.
“It's what she told me, sweetie. I am so sorry.”
I wrap my mom up in a hug. “You have nothing to be sorry about. Everything is going to be okay.”
We talk more about her visit and how Leah is being treated for some kind of mental disorder. From what my mom understands, she isn't going to be released anytime soon.
Edward calls my dad to come to pick up Mom because I worry about her driving back on her own.
The DNA results come back, and they support Leah's story that Sarah isn’t Jake’s. But Jake still wants her; he’s been raising her, and he’s the only father that Sarah has ever known.
Sam Uley has hired a lawyer named Tia to represent help him in the battle to get custody of Sarah. It's all a headache.
Pulling Tia aside, I say, “Could we try mediation and maybe some kind of visitation schedule?”
I’m trying to keep everything civil. I know if we go to court that Sam stands an excellent chance of winning. He shares DNA, he never knew Leah told Jake she was his. And when Sam asked about a DNA test, she told him no. He has all of this documented. He was about to take Leah to court over the baby she’s carrying. Not to mention, Tia is an outstanding lawyer that was two years behind me in school.
She presses her lips together before answering me. “I’ll talk to my client, but I don't see why he would. He has dead rights to the child.”
Squaring my shoulders, I reply, “I know, but this is about a child. A child that has been raised by my client for her entire life. As much as I understand your client's standpoint, he really should consider thinking about what’s best for Sarah.”
She nods. “I’ll call you once I talk to my client.” Not waiting for a response, she walks away.
Jake appears next to me, causing me to groan.
“What happens now?”
“I asked if Sam was up to mediation so that maybe we can work out some visitation schedule so you both can be in her life.”
“But why? I’ve been raising her! I don't care what DNA says. She's my daughter.” His voice cracks at the end.
Deep down, I think this is karma, but my heart hurts for him. “I’m going to be honest, Jake. Sam has an excellent case. If taken to court, there is a high possibility you will lose.”
He nods. “Okay. Do you think he’ll agree to mediation?”
I shrug. “No idea. Now, I have to go. I’ll call you when I know more.”
I need to get away from him. This case needs to be over so I can wash my hands from this insanity.
I arrive home where I find Edward relaxing in the den with a book.
Something inside me shifts. I don't care about anything else that’s happening. Right here and right now I just want to sit with Edward and curl into his chest.
He turns and looks at me. His gaze takes me in while his lips curl up. “Hey, love, how was court?”
“Ugh, it was court.” I flop into his lap and his arms wrap around me.
He kisses the top of my head. “I love you.” His body freezes underneath me.
I smile, feeling at home. “I love you, too, Edward.”
My mouth finds his lips, and we kiss. I shift myself so I’m straddling him, keeping my hands to myself and letting him still have control as we make out. We kiss until we can't breathe. Edward pulls away, pressing his forehead to mine.
My heart feels full, and I know what I need more than anything. “Edward, will you help me with my daughter's room.”
His brows raise to his hairline, and his eyes widen. “Are you sure?”
I nod. “More than sure.”