“Don’t be nervous.”
Until Mom said that, Ben was fine. As soon as she tried to brush the hair out of his eyes and straightened his tie, he knew she was nervous, but he only started to feel like an ax or something was hovering over his head when she told him not to be. Then he thought about the fact she’d made him wear his one and only suit, and pulled him from school.
“I’m not worried,” he said, but he could feel the shaking start.
He couldn’t help thinking about the time he was so sure nothing could possibly go wrong when everyone ate at the table together. Seemed like as soon as he’d thought it the O’Connor brothers tried to kidnap him and Mom sent him off to live with Dad. He couldn’t think of anything worse that could have happened to him, and that included death.
Mom bit her lip, which really scared him. She headed for the back door, through the kitchen, and he followed.
“I wish Drew could come today.”
“How come?” He might have sounded a little belligerent. Not that he meant it, really. He liked Drew. But this was just another divorce court hearing, wasn’t it? What could Mom’s new boyfriend have to do with it?
“No reason. I just thought it would be nice to have him there.”
“We could bring Miranda,” Ben suggested hopefully.
“No. Besides, she’s at work.” She stopped by the door on the driver’s side of her car like she had to do some thinking right then and there. The more thinking she did, the more nervous he got.
“So what’s the big deal this time? It’s different, isn’t it,” he said.
“Yes. This time might be a little different. But I’m sure it’ll all work out.” She got in the car.
He got in on the passenger side and they both got busy with their seat belts. That bad feeling he’d been getting just got worse and worse.
“So, what’s so different about it this time?”
For a minute he thought she wasn’t going to tell him. She started the car, went down the driveway, then turned left on Jennifer Street. She wanted him to tell her everything. No way he was going to let her keep anything from him. The further she went, the tenser he got.
“Mom,” he said, ready to lay into her. She didn’t make him do anything more.
“This time your father isn’t trying to get any money from me or stop the child support payments.”
“Really? When why bother?”
“This time he’s trying to get full custody. He’s after you.”
It took all his will power, and even then he had to brace his hands against the dash, but he didn’t scream. Not even a little.
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