"You look gorgeous," Jill said, giving Max a once over, "It's getting close! Aren't you excited?"
Max couldn't help but grin, "Yeah. It seems kind of surreal though. Is this really my life Jill? It seems like just yesterday . . . It's changed so much, so fast."
"For the better?"
"Definitely for the better," Max agreed, sizing up her reflection in the mirror, "I never thought I'd be wearing one of these. God. We're getting married."
Jill adjusted the white fabric, "It doesn't need many alterations. How's Kylie doing?"
"She's getting so big," Max replied, with a shake of her head, "It's hard to believe she was two months early. I mean she's four months old now. And she's started sleeping through the night."
"That's always a plus," Jill agreed, "How is the nanny search going?"
Max shrugged, "It's hard. I don't want to leave her alone with some stranger . . . Am I going to be one of those over protective and paranoid mothers?"
"It's natural," Jill stressed, "She's your first child. It's hard, believe me I know that."
Max shook her head, "Yeah. Kenny's parents are staying with her while we go on our honeymoon, which is also worrisome, but it's different."
"Separation anxiety," Jill commented, "It'll be fine, I promise you."
"I know," Max sighed, eyeing her image again, "I still can't believe I'm wearing one of these."
Kenny couldn't help but grin, as he watched Kylie sleep. She's amazing, he thought, absolutely amazing. This has all been worth it, he thought, as he went to answer the door.
"Kenneth Lacos?," the stranger asked, handing him a stack of papers as Kenny nodded, "You've been served."
"What?," Kenny asked to the departing figure, "What are you talking about?"
"I just deliver them. You have to read them," the man called back, "Good luck with that."
Now what, Kenny thought, who could be serving me with papers? Unfolding them quickly, he inhaled quickly as the words hit him. This can't be happening. They can't do this, no way will they get away with it. Shit. Max is going to lose it.
Reaching for the phone quickly, Kenny punched in a familiar number.
"Two weeks to go," Jimmy mused, "How did the dress fitting go?"
Jill smiled, "She looks great Jimmy, a beautiful bride. A little stunned at everything that has happened in the last year, but holding her own. And she isn't too keen about leaving Kylie with a nanny."
"I don't think Kenny is either," Jimmy added, "But they have too."
"She knows that. It's hard though with the first one."
"Hi," Max said slowly, looking from Kenny and Wambaugh, "What's going on?"
"We need to talk about something," Kenny said carefully, still stunned by the news himself, "It's serious sweetheart."
"Aww, you two are sweet," Wambaugh interjected, "Have a seat, we have a lot to go over."
Max shot Kenny a look before joining him on the couch, "Okay. What exactly?"
Wambaugh handed her the documents silently, and Kenny wrapped his arm around her shoulders as she read it. Feeling her stiffen beside him, he tilted her head up so he could look at her, "Hey. It's not gonna happen. I promise."
"You can't promise that," she replied shakily, "They can't . . . How can they? Why?"
"That's what we need you to tell us," Wambaugh cut in, "Focus Maxine. I need to know everything about your relationship with your parents."
She shook her head, "They want Kylie?"
"They can't have her," Kenny said softly, "Sweetheart, we won't let them. You need to tell him anything that will help."
She nodded, "Okay, okay. My parents? They're . . . I don't even know what to say. They're very . . . traditional I guess. They're rich . . . and think they can buy what they want. Appearances matter a lot to them. They, we . . . We don't get along too well. We haven't in awhile."
"Not getting along isn't a reason for them to want to take your daughter," Wambaugh countered, "I need details."
"They don't approve of anything I've ever done. They never have," Max trailed off, "I was never one, for how they put it, proper society. My sisters were more then happy to fit in, go to the club, symphony, charity balls, and all of that. They tried to make me, but I couldn't. The resentment grew from there."
"When was the last time you saw them before they showed up here?"
"Um, about three years. It was my father's sixtieth birthday," Max replied shuddering slightly, "He cut me out of his will that day because . . ."
"Because why?," Kenny asked, hating the pain he saw in her eyes, "You never told me this."
She looked up at him, "I didn't want to . . . My family is so screwed up sometimes, and I don't want anyone else to know about them."
"Because why?," Wambaugh repeated.
Max sighed, as Kenny pulled her closer to his side, "They brought this guy, Marcus McDougall, to the party. He was about fifty, and my parents brought the two of us into a room with them. They . . . They wanted me to marry him. They had a contract and everything."
"I take it you said no," Wambaugh replied dryly.
Max nodded, as Kenny smoothed her hair off her face, "I threw a fit. I was 25 . . . I refused, and my father said if I didn't do it, I was out of the family. He would make me regret my choice."
"Bastard," Kenny said softly.
"This is an interesting way to do it," Wambaugh commented, "Can you prove it?"
Max paused before nodding, "I think so."
"Ridiculous," Jimmy commented, "They're serious."
Skeeter shook his head, "Max's parents are suing for custody? Can they even do that? On what grounds? This is a mess. Is it going to postpone the wedding again?"
"I think they have more important things on their minds now," Jimmy replied dryly.
Skeeter shrugged, "Maybe getting married sooner rather then later would help their cause some."
"This case in ludicrous," Wambaugh declared, "These two people, Edward and Kathryn Stewart have no cause to be suing for custody. They're bitter and angry, and this is their form of retribution!"
"Objection!," Bradford Johnson, Max's parents attorney, "Who is this man? Is he really a lawyer?"
"Yes," Bone verified, "I know that better then anyone. Objection over ruled."
"Thank you," Wambaugh replied with a grin, "Kylie Lacos has a loving home and caring parents. She's well provided for. She is healthy and happy, despite being born three months premature. I need one good reason why this child should be removed from her home!"
"Only one?," Bradford asked, "I can give you a half dozen why my clients can provide a better and stable home for their grandchild."
"I'm still looking for one!"
"Unwed parents who are both in law enforcement? The mothers emotional instability? The father's preoccupation with guns and affair with the deceased former mayor? These are people you want raising a child?"
"Rubbish," Wambaugh declared, "Who are you anyway? A wedding date has been set, a nanny is being looked into, my clients are not unstable, and past relationships mean nothing. Your clients had nanny's raising their children, and you want to talk about stability? You just wait!"
"Enough," Bone cut in sharply, "I want all parties in my chambers now. This is ridiculous. All of you. Now."
Kenny squeezed Max's hand under the table, as they rose to their feet and whispered, "It's going to be okay."
She nodded, as they trailed behind Wambaugh, "I know."
"You're not unstable."
She squeezed his hand back, as they settled into Bone's office, "Thanks."
"Now," Bone growled, "What the hell is this about? A custody suit? On what grounds? Between the two of you yelling at each other, I've got nothing."
"The fact that my daughter let this man be her lawyer should speak volumes," Edward said lowly, "She's not fit to be a parent."
"Apparently neither are you," Wambaugh interjected, shooting Kenny and Max a look, "I've heard some interesting things about you and how you treated your children. I wouldn't send another one into your home if you paid me to. But I'm not the one who likes to pay people."
"Meaning?," Bradford asked.
Wambaugh shrugged nonchalantly, "Does the name Marcus McDougall ring a bell?"
"You wouldn't," Edward hissed, glaring at Max, "We're doing what is best for you and the child."
"Her name is Kylie," Max replied lowly, "And you're not."
"You don't know what you're dealing with," Edward replied, "Do you want her to turn out like you? Living in poverty in some backwoods town? Wasting her life?"
Max sat back, and just shook her head, "One, we're not poor. Two, whatever choices she makes will be her own and I'm sure they'll be right for her."
"What will it take for you to give us the child?," Edward asked, "What do you want?"
"Edward!," Bradford cut in, "What are you doing?"
"You can't buy us," Wambaugh added, trying to suppress a grin as the other man buried dug himself in deeper.
"Enough," Bone interjected, shooting Max's parents a disgusted look, "What the hell is wrong with you people? You can't buy everything away. This is a child. One that you aren't getting your hands on. On top of that I'm issuing a restraining order keeping you at least one hundred feet away from Kylie Lacos at all time. Believe me, I'll have your ass in jail faster then you can blink if you violate it."
"You can't do that!," Kathryn cried, "She's our granddaughter! We want what is best for her!"
"We'll appeal," Bradford insisted, "Kylie will be going home with her grandparents."
Wambaugh shook his head, "I don't think so. I have a contract here, prepared by Bradford over here that outlines an agreement between Maxine's parents and this Marcus McDougall, saying that they would accept a payment of five million dollars if they two of them got married. They wanted to sell their child into marriage? What country do we live in?"
"You can't do this," Edward growled, rising to his feet, "I'll see you in hell!"
"I want the three of you out of this town," Bone declared, "Today, and we won't press any charges of prostitution. And anything else I can think of. Get out!"
"You okay?," Kenny asked, after he put Kylie to bed, "Max? Hello?"
"What?," she asked, turning around to face him, "Did you say something?"
"It's all right," he said softly, placing his hands on her shoulders, "You look like you're gonna cry. Everything is fine. They're gone."
Max shook her head, "I know . . . I don't ever want to see them again. Ever. They're . . . What's wrong with them?"
"You want to talk about it?"
"I guess. You want to know why I never told you about Marcus? And all of that?"
"Is it part of the reason you were so against this whole marriage thing?"
"Yeah. I was so ashamed," she trailed off, "It was like I was a piece of property that they could sell off. And they didn't care. My parents don't love me. I don't think they ever have. What the hell does that say about me?"
"Nothing. They're insane," he said softly, wrapping his arms around her, "You have nothing to be ashamed of sweetheart. You're nothing like them either, and you could never treat Ky the way they treated you. You're wonderful Max, and I love you. Crazy family and all."
"I'm glad your family came around. Sort of," she replied softly, as they sat down on the bed, "At least your Mom doesn't look at me like I'm the whore of Babylon any more."
"Babies have a way of softening people up," Kenny replied, "And my Dad likes you. He said that you were good people."
Max nodded, "I can live with that."
He brushed her hair back off of her cheek, "We won't ever treat Ky that way. We're getting married in one week Max. Can we just focus on that now?
"I'd like that," she agreed, smiling a little, "I can't wait to be your wife."
"I Kenneth Michael Lacos," Kenny began the following Saturday, "Take you Maxine Amanda Stewart to be my wife. I promise to love, honor and cherish you. For better or for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, till death do we part."
Max smiled shakily up at him, as he took his hands in hers, as the minister said, "Now Kenneth and Maxine have some personal vows that they would like to say to each other. Maxine?"
"Kenny. There is so much I want to say," Max said softly, "I never thought I'd be so lucky to . . . to fall in love with my best friend. We've had a lot of ups and downs, but I could never imagine being up here with anyone else. You make me laugh, cry, think, and happier then I ever thought I could be. I love you, and I can't wait to spend the rest of our lives together."
Kenny wiped her tears away before reciting his own vows, "Max, I've been in love with you since the first day we met. Even when you drove me crazy, I've loved you. I don't know what else to say . . . You're wonderful."
"The rings please," the minister said, smiling at the misty eyed couple.
"With this ring, I thee wed," Kenny said, fighting to keep his voice steady, as he slid the band onto her finger.
Max smiled up at him, as she slid the matching one onto his hand, "With this ring I thee wed."
"By the power invested in me by this state of Wisconsin I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."
Kenny pulled her into his arms, and kissed her softly as their collected friends began to applaud.