Never thought you'd see me again, huh? Well, I'm back, not by myself though, with the fourth story in this nice series. It takes place two years after "Missing Person", so it's not exactly going on with present time. If you get confused with any part of the story, maybe you should read "Surprises From The Past..." (The 1st story), "What You Don't Know Can Hurt You" (2nd story), and "Missing Person"(3rd story) just to refresh you minds a bit. And now the long awaited story...
Tug of War of the Heart by:
Monica( ) and Michelle ( )
"Lorenzo! Lorenzo! In my office." Harry said. Chris and Rita looked at each other and then followed.
"Have a seat." Harry said as he stared over his glasses at them.
"So, what did you decide?"
"About what?" Chris asked.
"Julie. What are we going to do for her birthday? She's going to be sixteen years old!"
"Well, we haven't decided yet." Rita replied.
"Actually, Julie hasn't decided yet.'" Chris added.
"Well, Frannie and I have an idea. Since you guys have the beach house, how about a tropical theme? That way Julie can invite her friends. We can even help with the food." Harry suggested.
"That's a great idea." Chris said. "And they can play their music and all that good stuff."
"I think Julie'll like that, too, but she deserves to have some input. It is her birthday." Rita added in Julie's defense.
"We'll run it by her tonight and see what she thinks."
"Okay. You let me know. This is going to be a birthday to remember." Harry smiled.
"Alright. Back to work. Back to work."
Chris couldn't believe that his little girl was going to be sixteen years old. She's grown up a lot over the last two years. She's also informed them that she was going to follow in her parents' footsteps and attend the police academy after college. God! In two short years, she's be heading off to college and a life of her own. He would have to send his baby girl into a world known for its cruelty and hard lessons learned. He couldn't help but be a little sad. He'd missed out on all the stuff that he was experiencing with the twins.
"Sam? You okay?" Rita asked as she noticed the sad smile and far away look.
"Yeah." Chris replied. " I just can't believe Julie's going to be sixteen years old."
"She's not a baby anymore." Rita acknowledged. "But she'll always be our baby."
"So true." Chris smiled. The rest of the morning went by pretty uneventful. But while they
were at lunch and discussing Julie's birthday, they got a shock.
"Hello, Chris." a voice said. Chris and Rita looked up in surprise.
"Tracy. What are you doing here?" Chris asked.
"I've come to take Julie home." Tracy answered.
"She is home." Chris said.
"I didn't come here to argue. I just want my daughter back." Tracy stood her ground.
"I'm not letting you take her anywhere. You haven't even tried to contact my daughter
since you dumped her on my doorstep." Chris fired back.
"I didn't dump her on your doorstep!" Tracy practically yelled.
"Alright, that's enough. Let's sit down and discuss this." Rita butted in as people were starting to stare.
"That won't be necessary. I'm taking my daughter back one way or another." Tracy said.
"I'm not giving her up that easily." Chris said.
"If that's the way you want it." Tracy said and stormed off.
"Can you believe her?" Chris said as he sat back down. "She thinks I'm just going to hand Julie over like that? She's crazy."
"That may be, but she's still Julie's mother." Rita reasoned. "She's does have rights."
"Like hell she does. I remember my mother wanting to play mother when it was convenient to her. I won't let Julie be treated like that. I won't." Chris stated.
"What are we going to tell her?"
"She doesn't need to know about it. At least not yet." Chris said, not sure what to expect.
Julia Lorenzo couldn't seem to concentrate. She had just made the A Honor Roll and in just a few short minutes, she'd find out if she got the part of Juliet in the school play. If she did, it would be absolutely "parfait" as her father often said. Finally, the dismissal bell rang and Julie ran down the hallway only to run into her best friend, Jake Meyerson.
"I know something you don't know." He teased as he wouldn't let her by.
"Out of my way, Jake." Julie tried to get by.
"I know who got the part of Juliet."
Julie glared at him. "You know if I got it or not."
He smiled, broadly. "Yeah, I do." he said in his best Ray Stevens accent.
"Tell me! Tell me I got it!" Julie pleaded.
"You got it." Jake said.
"I got it! I got it!" Julie yelled and jumped into his arms and he spun her around.
"I can't wait to tell Mom and Dad."
"I can't wait to see you in something skimpy." Jake wiggled his eyebrows. Julie playfully hit him.
"C'mon, I'll give you a lift home." Jake said as he put an arm around his best friend. "But first, we're going to celebrate." Jake took her and they had ice cream on the beach. By the time he got her home, Chris and Rita had just gotten home.
"May I have your attention please." Jake said as he opened the door. Chris and Rita turned to see what was going on. "May I present you to the newest rising star of Palm Beach High school. Miss Julia Lorenzo who will be playing the part of Juliet." Jake said and began clapping as she came in.
"Thank you. Thank you. I'd like to thank all the little people." Julie said as she took her bow.
"You got the part. Congratulations." Chris and Rita said and hugged her.
"Oh, it gets better." She paused as she pulled out her report card from her shorts pocket. " I also made the A Honor Roll. Therefore, that entitled me to target practice and a self defense course."
"Christopher Lorenzo! You've been teaching her how to shoot!" Rita glared at her husband.
"What can I say? She's a natural." Chris shrugged. "So, Jake, you staying for dinner?"
"I would love to, but my mother has requested my presence for dinner. I think it had something to with the guy she's seeing." Jake explained.
"What makes you think that?" Julie asked.
"She wants me out at the country club in a tie." Jake replied.
"So, what would this make? Three?" Rita asked.
"Four. Some people collect stamps. My mother collects husbands and alimony. But I kinda like this guy. He actually talks to me like a human being." Jake explained.
"Isn't he an attorney of some kind?" Julie asked.
"A probate attorney from Ft. Lauderdale. He's moving his practice here to be close to Mom and I. Maybe I should warn him. Oh, well, I'll see you later. Jules, I'll see you in the morning?"
"As always." Julie answered as Samantha climbed in her lap.
"See ya, Chris and Rita."
"See ya, Jake." Chris said as Rita waved.
"I think that boy likes you." Chris teased.
"No way. He's my best friend. Besides, he's seeing Angela Taylor." Julie explained.
Chris and Rita smiled at each other. Julie shook her head. "Parents." Julie teased back.
Jake Meyerson was the son of one of Palm Beach's elite socialites. His mother was raised that way and married well. Three times going on four. But Jake was an unusually down to earth kinda guy. And even though every girl at Palm Beach High School would love to get their claws in him, he still spent most of him time with Julie Lorenzo. Even though most of the people at Palm Beach liked her, there were a few that didn't simply because she was the daughter of a couple of homicide detectives. But most were curious because of the well-known reputation of Lance and Lorenzo. But everyone could tell that there was something more between Jake and Julie. Chris and Rita always joked about history repeating itself the first time Julie brought him home to meet them. It was just a matter of time.
All through out dinner, Julie talked about her day. "Today has been absolutely parfait!" Julie finally said.
Chris chuckled. "Parfait, huh?" he asked.
"Absolutely. Nothing could ruin my day." Julie threw her arms up. Chris and Rita laughed. Little Samantha started clapping and Chris, Jr., or CJ, wanted to get in on the whole thing. Just then, the doorbell rang. "I'll get it." Julie jumped up and ran for the door. When she opened it, she was floored.
"Hello, sweetheart." Tracy said. Julie just slammed the door and stood there. She just didn't know what to do.
"Julie? Who was at the door?" Chris asked. Julie couldn't say anything. She couldn't seem to speak. Then there was another knock. This time, Chris opened the door to find Tracy standing there. "Well, I can see you taught her manners." Tracy said.
"What are you doing here? I thought we said all there was to say this afternoon."
"I came to give you one last chance to give my daughter back."
"Not a chance." Chris said as Rita joined him.
"You're giving me no choice. I'll go through the courts is I have to." Tracy threatened.
"You don't have a leg to stand on. We've got nothing left to say but stay away from my daughter and my family." Chris said and slammed the door. Chris slowly turned around to Julie. Rita was already hugging her.
"Julie, I am so sorry." Chris apologized.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Julie asked.
"I was going to, but you were having such a great day and I didn't want to spoil it for you." Chris said.
"Why does she want me? I haven't heard from her in two years." Then all at once, Julie began to panic. "Oh, God, she's going to make me go back. Daddy, don't let her take me."
"No. No one's taking you anywhere." Chris promised as he took his daughter in his arms.
"We won't let her." Rita added. Chris and Rita looked at each other. This was going to get ugly, but they weren't going to let Tracy Peters just take Julie back without a fight. Later that night, Rita joined Chris in bed. " How is she?" Chris asked.
"Not good. Poor kid's scared to death to go back to her mother. She cried herself to sleep." Rita explained.
"What are we going to do? I can't believe this is happening. Two years and not a word. Then she just shows up like nothing happened." Chris said.
"Hey, let's not think about that. Julie's our daughter. Tracy signed over custody when she left Julie here with us. You're her father and that entitles you to her. She's happy here and no one can take her. We won't let them without a fight." Rita said. Chris looked up at Rita and smiled.
The next morning was trained and tense. Chris and Rita kept reassuring Julie that everything was going to be alright. But as much as Julie wanted to believe that, she knew her mother. She would do whatever it took to get what she wants. Right now that meant Julie. Chris and Rita dropped her off at school and then they headed to work. Harry saw when they came in. Something wasn't right. So he went to investigate.
"Okay, what's going on?" Harry demanded.
"Tracy Peters in back in town." Chris began.
"And she wants Julie back." Rita finished.
"When did this happen?" Harry asked.
"She showed up yesterday at lunch demanding I just turn Julie back over to her. I told her what she could do with her demand. Then Julie came home with some good news and I didn't have the heart to tell her about Tracy." Chris explained.
"So when are you going to tell her?"
"Oh, Tracy already did that for us. She showed up in the middle of dinner and made a big scene. Now Julie's terrified that Tracy's going to take her away." Rita added.
"How can a person do that to such a good kid like Julie?" Harry asked.
"A selfish one." Chris replied. Just then, a man walked through the palm tree doors. "Mr. and Mrs. Christopher James Lorenzo, Sr.?" the man asked.
"Yes?" Chris answered as he stood.
"This is yours." the man said as he handed Chris the papers and walked out. Chris opened them.
"Chris? Chris, what is it?" Rita asked.
"They're custody papers. Tracy's suing us for custody of Julie."
It had been two weeks since Chris and Rita had been served with papers. George helped them find one of the best child custody attorneys in Palm Beach. Because George had asked him to do this favor and explained things, he agreed to do this for a fraction of his usual fee.
"Chris. Rita, I have to believe that we have a strong case. Julia has shown great improvement while in your custody. You are her biological father and with the testimonies from the people you've listed, I think we can easily win." Charles Freeman said.
Chris and Rita visibly relaxed. "Thank you so much, Mr. Freeman. We needed to hear that. Poor Julie's been in knots since this has happened." Rita said.
"Maybe she can sleep tonight." Chris added. Charles smiled. Little did he know what was going on at home. Julie was indeed taking this hard. She was hardly eating and sleeping and was one big bundle of nerves.
"All I can say is that everything looks promising right now. But as in anything, nothing's set in stone. I can't guarantee anything. All we can do is go with what they throw at us and hope that we have more ammunition that they do." Charles said.
"I only wish it didn't have to happen like this. This has been really hard on Julie." Chris said.
"From the looks of things, it hasn't been easy for you two, either. I have a feeling that you're not exactly used to being on this side of the court." Charles surmised.
"No, I can't say that we are. Investigating a murder is one thing. But to try and keep your daughter from being turned back over to someone who doesn't love her, it another." Chris said.
"Well, like I said, things look good. Go home, get some rest and be ready for anything. All you can do now is just show up tomorrow ready for it." Charles said.
"Thank you, Mr. Freeman." Chris said as he and Rita stood to leave.
"My pleasure." he said.
Chris and Rita went home and explained how things looked to Julie. Chris couldn't help it. Since Julie was having trouble sleeping, he stayed with her until she fell asleep. All he could think that there was a chance that this special spirit would taken away from him. He started thinking about all the things he'd missed with her. Then all the things he could missed if Tracy got her back. No! He won't let that happen. he couldn't. He'd promised Julie and this was one promise he was going to keep.
"All rise, the Honorable Grant Carter. Court is now in session." The bailiff said as the judge walked in. Everyone in the room sat back down when the judge did. He looked at some papers, and looked back up.
"This case number 092822. Peters vs. Lorenzo." The judge looked at both groups, and then looked back at the papers. Then he let both sides give their opening statements. After that, Tracy's lawyer, Mr. Edwards, called the first person to testify. "I would like to called Mr. Wallace Cramer to the stand." the lawyer said. A man from the back of the room walked to the front and the bailiff swore him in. Mr. Edwards went up to the man as soon as the man sat down. "Mr. Cramer, do you know Ms. Peters?" Mr. Edwards asked.
"Yes, I do. Very well." Wallace answered.
"And what is your relation to Ms. Peters?"
"I am her husband." Wallace said. Chris and Rita were both shocked to hear this. "Did you know about him?" Mr. Freeman whispered to Chris and Rita. They both shook their heads.
"Do you feel that Ms. Peters is a good mother?" Mr. Edwards asked Wallace.
"I don't feel, sir, I know that Tracy is a good mother. She has been wanting to have children ever since we've gotten married, and we haven't been successful. I think if she would have Julie around, it wouldn't hurt as much." Wallace replied.
"Does she regret giving her away to Mr. Lorenzo?" Edwards asked.
"Yes, very much, sir. She sometimes cries herself to sleep because she is worried something else might happen to her only child. Especially what happened two years ago." He replied.
"How would you and your wife provide for Julia?"
"Well, we both have jobs. I run very popular restaurant, Tracy is a dance teacher at a children's center. But both of those jobs would give our family and us more than enough time to spend together. We live in a very peaceful neighborhood not too far from Palm Beach. And there is a very good private school that is known for it academics in the state of Florida that we would send her to." Wallace said.
"That's all." Edwards said as he walked back the table. Mr. Freeman got up from his chair and walked to the stand.
"How long have you been married to Ms. Peters?" Mr. Freeman asked.
"For four months now." Wallace replied back.
"And you've known her for..." Mr. Freeman trailed off so that Wallace could finish the sentence.
"I've know her for six months." Wallace answered back.
"So you known her two months before you got married?"
"Yes, we met through mutual friends at a party...we really didn't started going out until
two weeks later, then after of month of dating I knew she was the woman for me and we were married two weeks after that."
"Do you have any experience with raising a child, especially one going through their teenage years?"
"Well, I was the oldest of four children, and I helped my mother raised my two youngest sisters, since she was working single mother."
"So you would be ready for the responsibility?"
"Yes, my wife and I would be completely ready for it." Wallace said giving a broad smile.
"No further questions." Mr. Freeman said as he sat down. The day went on with more people talking on behalf of Tracy's side. Then the judge dismissed them for a hour for a lunch break.
"Are you sure you didn't know about the husband?" Mr. Freeman asked, as they sat in small restaurant outside the courthouse.
"No...Tracy never mentioned a husband, nothing at all." Rita replied
"All she really said when she back was that she wanted Julie back...she never really said
anything else." Chris said.
"Well, that isn't going to hurt your case that much, but now we can't give the reason that Tracy would be raising Julie as a single mother. Things are still looking good because you are ones who have been raising Julie for the past two years." Mr. Freeman said.
"Well, I hope it does turn out. Julie's hasn't been herself since her mother came back. She wanted to come to court today, but Rita and I feared that she would over react or just cry in the middle of court. But, now, with her mother's new husband...I don't know how she is going to take the news." Chris said.
"Well, she is going to talk on her behalf, right?" Mr. Freeman asked.
"Yes, that's the one thing we did agree on. If we would of said no, we would of heard from her until we said yes." Chris said.
"We made her promise that this whole thing wouldn't mess with her personal and school life." Rita answered.
"Well, it's a good thing that she isn't here today." Mr. Freeman said.
"Why?" Chris and Rita said in unison.
"Because Tracy is going to be the next to testify in court."
When the hour was up, everyone was already in the courtroom. "Mr. Edwards, you may proceed." Judge Carter said.
"Yes, I would like to call Tracy Peters to the stand." the lawyer said. Tracy walked to the stand. The bailiff swore her in and then she sat down.
"Now, Ms. Peters, when did you realize that you wanted your daughter back?" Edwards asked.
"Well, I've always wanted my daughter with me but I wasn't sure of the right to do it. Especially after the incident two years ago I was really worried if she was in the right hands." Tracy said.
"Can you elaborate on that incident?" Mr. Edwards asked.
"Yes, Julie was kidnapped by one of Rita Lorenzo former boyfriends. He was mad at Chris and he sought revenge and he took it out on Julie who was then only fourteen years old. She did escape safely, although she did have some injuries. When I told the story to Wally, he said he would help me in any to help me get my daughter back under my watch and care."
"Do you fear for your daughter since her father and his wife are both cops?"
"I fear that she might be hurt again because of all the crazy people in this world with grudges. I'm not saying that being a cop is bad, but it is a dangerous profession, and you can never know what can happen."
"No further questions." Edwards said.
"Ms. Peters...or is it Mrs. Cramer?" Mr. Freeman asked.
"I go by Ms. Peters. I don't think a woman has to change her own name just to show much she loves her husband."
"Well, Ms. Peters, you didn't raise Julie at all before, did you?"
"Well, no, my late ex-husband did. Julie was very young when we divorced."
"And you never told Julie that the man she thought was her father, really wasn't?"
"No, I really never had the heart to tell Julie or my late ex-husband that Julie wasn't his daughter. Then when passed away so unexpectedly, I suddenly had a teen to raise. I was scared. So I looked for and found Chris in Palm Beach."
"And you just handed over Julie to Chris and Rita, who just had twins, and left without any explanation?"
"No, I didn't! I wasn't making enough money for myself, and I didn't even know how to raise a child, and I was just scared. I didn't know what to do. It just seems the thing to do at that moment in my life."
"And now it's different?"
"Yes. I'm happily married, I have a great job, but most of all I feel now I'm ready to be a mother. My husband has been extremely supportive through everything and he would be a great male figure in the home."
"But you do know that Julie likes living in Palm Beach with her father."
"Yes, I understand, but I know Chris and Rita are raising two year old twins, and with the fact Julie is turning sixteen, I think they both have too much on their hands, especially with their jobs. I feel that my husband I can give so much more to Julie. " Tracy said.
"No further questions, your honor." Mr. Freeman said.
"You may get off the stand, Ms. Peters." Judge Carter. Then the Judge called it a day and that the it would resume tomorrow.
"What do you think, Mr. Freeman?" Rita asked as they walked out of the courtroom.
"Well, you two still have a good case, but the chances are not as high before."
"What does that mean?" Chris asked.
"Well, I'm not saying you are going to lose, I'm just saying it not the same as before."
"Why? Because we're cops, and because of what happened two years ago? Come on,
that's just not fair. What are we supposed to quit our jobs and watch Julie 24/7?" Chris said strongly.
"Chris, calm down." Rita said as she stopped in front of him. "I understand what he saying. We still have our side to represent, and with the people have on our side, we will win this, and Julie won't be taken away from us." She said. Chris nodded and turned to Mr. Freeman.
"I'm sorry...it's just that..."Chris trailed off.
"It's okay, I understand. We'll have to see what happens." Mr. Freeman said.
Frannie watched helplessly as Julie nervously paced the living room floor. This young girl of fifteen, nearly sixteen was carrying a heavy burden because she fully understood what was at stake. She knew that her entire future was waiting in a courtroom and in the hands of perfect strangers.
"Honey, let's sit down. Why don't you try to eat a sandwich?" Frannie finally stopped the young girl she came to love as a granddaughter.
"I can't, Grandma." Julie said as she looked up at Frannie.
"You don't know my mother. She's not doing this because she loves me and wants me. There's something going on. Why can't she just leave me alone? She's never been a mother. She doesn't know the first thing about being a mother. Rita's my mom."
Frannie's heart broke at the pleading in her voice. Frannie sat her down on the couch and she held the young girl. "Oh, honey, I wish there was something I could do." Frannie said.
"Don't let her take me, Grandma. I just want to stay here with all of you. My home is here." Julie began to cry and not for the first time since her mother had shown up. Frannie only held her and rocked her.
The drive over to Frannie's to pick up the kids was quiet. Chris pulled to a stop at a light. "I can't believe she did that." Chris said, not realizing he had said it aloud.
"Did what?" Rita asked.
"I can't believe she showed up with a husband. I can't believe she didn't say anything
about this. Hell, I can't believe she's suing us for custody of Julie." Chris shook his head.
"Why do I get the feeling this is going downhill fast?"
"You got that impression, too?" Rita sighed heavily. "From what Freeman was saying, things are looking worse and worse."
"What if we lose Julie? What's going to happen to her? They're going to take our daughter, Sam." Chris said as he voiced his fears. " What are we going to tell Julie? She's going to want to know what happened today."
"We tell her the truth. We haven't lied to her since this whole mess started and we're not about to start now. We have to make sure that Julie knows we love her and that we're going to do everything we can to make sure she stays with us." Rita said as she took her husband's hand.
Chris gave it a squeeze. "I knew there was a reason I married you." Chris said. " I love you, you know that?"
"I know and you know I love you. And we both love our children and no one can take that away." Rita said. They were brought out of their own little world with a couple of cars behind them honking.
"Alright, alright" Chris said and proceeded to the Lipschitz's.
Harry opened the door before the two could even knock. From the look on their faces, things didn't look good. "It went that well?" Harry asked. Chris and Rita sighed heavily as they walked in. They walked down the hall to the living room. Julie was asleep on the couch.
"You finally got her to get some sleep?" Chris asked as Rita went to check on her.
"It took some doing, but I think it was more exhaustion than anything else." Harry said.
"Frannie is making some tea." The adults went into the kitchen and sat down at the table.
"So, how did things go?" Harry asked.
"Tracy showed up with a husband." Chris stated. "A Wallace Cramer."
"Yeah, they knew each other for two months and then they got married. Apparently, they were trying to have kids and have been unsuccessful." Rita added.
"So, she wants Julie back to compensate. What's wrong with people these days?" Harry said. " To use children as pawns so they can feel better about themselves."
"And Julie's right in the middle." Chris said, absently. " Of all the stupid things I did, Tracy was one of the stupidest. The only good thing that came out of that situation was Julie. She should've told me from the beginning. From what was brought out today, Tracy never really wanted Julie to begin with. Hell, she dumped the poor kid with whoever would take her. She went so far as to lie to her first husband about Julie's paternity so she could get rid of her."
"And then used the classic 'I was scared and didn't know how to raise a child' excuse." Rita said.
"How awful." Frannie said.
"How was Julie this afternoon? She hasn't been herself since her mother showed up." Rita asked, concerned.
"Well, I got her to at half a sandwich, but that was about it. She fell asleep a little before you came in." Frannie explained.
"Julie's the one paying for all of this. She's just a kid." Chris said. " It's getting late. As much as I hate to wake her up, we better get going."
"Actually, I was thinking you'd stay for dinner. The way she's sleeping, she'll sleep through dinner anyway. You two have enough to worry about without having to worry about dinner." Frannie said. Chris and Rita looked at each other.
"That would be great." Rita said.
Julie was sleeping soundly, but then the nightmare started all over again. Tracy came up to her and grabbed her. She could see Chris and Rita standing there reaching for her. She was trying to desperately hold onto her father's hand, but it slipped away.
"Daddy! Mom! Don't let her take me!" Julie yelled.
"You were a mistake. Your father never wanted you, why do you think he left?" Tracy said as she kept pulling. This time when she turned back to Chris and Rita, they weren't reaching for her anymore. There was nothing.
"She's right. I never wanted you. You were nothing but a mistake." Chris said.
"These are our children. We love them." Rita said as she pointed to her two year old brother and sister.
Julie shook her head and then let it drop in her hands. "No! It's not true. You said you loved me. I don't want to go back to her. Daddy, don't leave me." Julie begged and looked up and saw Chris and Rita walking off with the twins. " Daddy!"
"Julie? Julia, honey, wake up." she heard her father's voice saying as she slowly came back to reality. She looked up at the worried faces of her family.
"Julie, honey it's okay. You're okay." Chris said.
"Don't leave me. Don't let her take me." Julie said as she cried and Chris pulled her close.
"She said I was a mistake. That you didn't want me and that's why you left her."
"No, honey, that's not true and you know it. I didn't know about you. And you were never a mistake, Julia. I love you and Rita loves you. You've got a lot of people around you who love you and won't let anything happen to you." Chris said as she cried.
"She doesn't want me. She never has. I don't know why she's doing this. She's never cared for anyone but herself." Julie said as she tried to compose herself.
"I know. I'm only sorry you've been caught in the middle of all this." Chris said as Rita sat down behind Julie and pulled her into a strong embrace. Julie threaded her fingers with Rita's. Right now, as much as she loved her father, she needed to know that the only mother she's ever known was there, too.
"How'd things go today?" Julie asked.
Chris glanced up at Rita. "Well, things didn't go bad." Chris began.
"But they didn't go good either." Julie said.
"No, they didn't. Did you know Tracy was married?" Chris asked.
"You're kidding. Where'd she dig him up?"
"I was hoping maybe you could tell us. You got a letter from her a while ago. Did she mention anything in it?" Chris asked.
"I don't know. I never opened it. I threw it away when Mom gave it to me." Julie shrugged. "Before she left me this time, like I told you, there was something different about it. I told her that I never want to see or hear from her again."
"Well, she gave a pretty good performance today." Rita said.
"Let me guess. She gave the ' I didn't know how to raise a child' speech." Julie rolled her eyes.
Chris and Rita looked at each other. "How'd you know?" they asked at the same time.
"Are you kidding? She's got that down pat. She uses it all the time." Julie said. " I could probably quote it for you. She's a hell of an actress, isn't she? The only thing she ever cared about was herself and money."
"Well, I guess right now, that's neither her nor there." Chris said.
"Why couldn't they use that against her?" Julie asked, grasping at straws.
"Because we're not going to resort to mud slinging. " Rita said. "What have we always told you about telling the truth?"
"That you should always tell the truth even if no one listens. But someone's going to hear it." Julie said.
"That's right." Rita said. "Now, as for you, young lady, that's enough about this for tonight. Let's get you something to eat."
"I'm not hungry." Julie said.
"You, my friend, don't have a choice." Chris said as he pulled her off the couch and led her to the kitchen. When Julie realized that no one was going to let her up until she ate something, she finally forced herself to eat.
That night, Chris couldn't sleep. It seemed like everything was spiraling out of control and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He had promised Julie that nothing would happen to her, but now he was wondering if he could really stop it.
"You've got to get some sleep, Sam." Rita mumbled and then turned to her husband.
"I can't. I've got this bad feeling about this whole thing." Chris finally confessed.
"It's not over yet. Freeman said we still have a strong case. Now yes, we had a little bit of a setback today, but we've still got our side to present. Like you told Julie, we've got a lot of people who love her and support us. We've never backed away from a fight and we're not about to start now. Do you understand?" Rita stated.
Chris smiled at her in the dark. "Why, Sammy, I never knew you could be so persuasive." Chris teased.
"Well, with you and Julie around, I have to be. She's a chip off the ol' block." Rita teased back.
"Aren't you blessed?" Chris said.
Rita laughed. They held each other, not getting much sleep, but needing very much to feel
one another. Somehow, they felt that together, they could do anything.
The next morning, Chris and Rita showed up with Julie. George, Harry, Frannie and Mr. Freeman were all there.
"You okay?" George asked the three when they walked up.
"Yeah, we're okay." Chris said as he put an arm around Julie.
"Julie?" George asked.
"I'm alright." Julie said, trying to be brave.
"You'll be fine." Harry winked at her.
"Um, Julie, if you don't mind, I need to talk with them about some things" Mr. Freeman said.
"Okay, I'm going to find something to drink." Julie knew it was her cue. Chris gave her some bills and she went in search of the vending machine. She barely got half way down the hall when she ran into her mother.
"Hello, sweetheart." Tracy smiled, timidly.
Julie just looked at her. "Why are you doing this?" Julie demanded.
"Because I love you and I want us to be together." Tracy said.
"Since when do you love me? You dumped me with my father without telling me the truth and walked away like you always have." Julie said with unmistakable venom.
"Honey, you're my daughter. You need a mother especially at your age." Tracy tried to explain.
"I have a mother. Rita Lorenzo had been more of a mother in two years than you ever were in fourteen. You have no idea what it is to be a mother." Julie said.
"I guess I deserved that." Tracy said.
"You have no idea what you deserve." Julie fired back.
"Julie?" a voice asked. They both turned to see Rita. Julia walked over to Rita and Rita put an arm around Julie.
"We'll see you in court." Julie said. Tracy shot Rita a killer look and turned to walk away. Julie let go of a breath she wasn't aware she was holding.
"You okay?" Rita asked.
"I am now. You have no idea how long I've wanted to say that." Julie smiled up at her mother feeling like a weight had been lifted.
"I can imagine. C'mon. Your Dad and everyone are waiting for us." Rita said and led her back to the group. Julie was surprised to see Jake standing there with everyone in a suit and tie and looking very uncomfortable.
"Jake? What are you doing here?" Julie asked.
"Well, I couldn't just sit in school and listen to boring irrelevant facts again." Jake explained.
"You just didn't want to take your history test." Julie smiled at him. Jake just shrugged.
"Thanks." Julie said. Jake smiled back.
"C'mon, guys. It's time to do this." Mr. Freeman said.
They all walked in. Chris and Rita went to the other side of the barrier with Mr. Freeman while the other sat in the row right behind them.
"All rise for the Honorable Judge Grant Carter." the bailiff said. Everyone stood and waited till the judge appeared.
"Please be seated." Judge Carter said. "Case number 092822 Peters vs. Lorenzo. Mr. Freeman, you may proceed."
"Thank you, your Honor." Mr. Freeman said. "I'd like to call my first witness. Mr. George Donovan." Mr. Freeman couldn't help but smile inwardly when he saw the impressed look on the judge's face. The bailiff swore him in and took his place on the stand.
"Mr. Donovan, would you state your whole name for the court." Mr. Freeman asked.
"George William Donovan."
"And what do you do, Mr. Donovan?"
"I'm an assistant district attorney here in Palm Beach." George answered.
"So, you know Christopher Lorenzo and his wife, Rita?"
"Yes, I do." George answered.
"Could you tell us a little bit about your relationship with them?"
"Well, as you know, Chris and Rita are detectives with the Homicide Division of the Palm Beach Police Department for the last seven years. I've spent a great deal amount of time with them in that capacity to prosecute people they bring to justice.' George said.
"Have you ever had any experience with them in a personal setting?" Mr. Freeman asked.
"Yes, on several occasions."
"What would you say about the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo?"
George smiled and couldn't think of where to begin. "Nothing short of destiny." George said.
"What makes you say that?"
"They were partners before they got married. Though they might not have seen it from the beginning, everyone else did. To tell you the truth, we were all surprised that it took so long, but it was no surprise when we found out they got married. They've always been there for each other on and off the job." George said.
"Have you had a chance to see them with their children?" Freeman asked.
"Yes. They're very good parents. Like I said, they've always been there for each other and they share parenting duties. They still carry their caseload and find time for their family as well as any other working family." George said.
"What about Julie? How well do you know her?"
"I've known her since Chris and Rita moved back to Palm Beach two years ago. In fact, I was the prosecuting attorney in the kidnapping of their daughter by Eric Russell." George said. " She was my key witness."
"And how did she come through that?"
"Like a trooper thanks to her parents. That was the first time I really got to meet with Julie. Even then, she struck me as a good kid who was more mature than her years. You don't find that with many kids in Palm Beach." George threw out.
"Was there any other experience you've had with her?"
"She was assigned to me for a week earlier in this school year. The Mayor's Office and the Palm Beach Police Department was hosting a pilot program in which students with at least a 3.2 grade point average were eligible for a Career Week sort of detail. She picked the District Attorney's office instead of the Homicide or Robbery Division." George said.
"Do you know why she picked the DA's office?'
George cleared his throat. "Um, she said at least with me, she could have a little fun and see what really goes on. She would've liked to be paired with her parents, but they'd make her stay in the car." George kinda joked. Even the judge couldn't help but snicker. It didn't go unnoticed that Chris and Rita turned around to their daughter. Julie gave a shrug and gave her best puppy look that she'd inherited from their father.
"Mr. Donovan, what would you say about the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo and Julia?"
"A typical teenager-parent relationship with a little something extra." George said.
"Could you explain?"
" Julie's a typical teenager in the way that they have a mind of their own and they think they knew everything. But instead of jumping off the deep end like I know they're love to do, they sit down and deal with the problem. But in any typical parent child relationship, Julie doesn't always get what she wants." George said. "She's a good kid with a head on her shoulders."
"No further questions, your Honor." Mr. Freeman said.
"Mr. Edwards." Judge Carter acknowledged as he wrote something down.
"Mr. Donovan, you said you work with Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo through the Homicide Division of the Palm Beach Police Department."
"Would you say that it's a dangerous job?"
"It can be." George said. " It's not something that just anyone off the streets can do."
"So, you'd say that being a detective is time consuming?"
"Depending on the case." George answered.
"What's the average amount of hours go on a case per day? Round about." Mr. Edwards pushed.
"On average, anywhere from eight to fourteen hours. Depending on the case." George said.
"So, it's very time consuming. Not exactly a nine to five Monday through Friday kind of job." Mr. Edwards through out. "No further questions, your Honor."
"I call Mr. Harry Lipschitz to the stand." Harry got up and proceeded to the stand. George put a hand on Julie's shoulder as he sat back down.
"Mr. Lipschitz, could you state your name and what it is you do?"
"Harry Isaac Lipschitz. I'm the captain of the Palm Beach Homicide Division." Harry said.
"So, you're over Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo?
"Could you tell us a little about the work Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo do?"
"They work the high profile murder case here in Palm Beach. Something that they began calling the Silk Stalkings detail." Harry said.
"Are they good at what they do?'
"The best I've ever worked with. They've got a perfect arrest record."
"How long have you yourself worked with them?"
"For the last five years." Harry answered.
"So, you know them pretty well and you've been through quit a lot with them. If there was anything you could say about them and their family, what would it be?"
"Strong. Chris and Rita have always had a very deep friendship from day one. They look out for each other and their marriage hasn't slowed them down. They do their job as well if not better than they ever have and they still find time for their family. They're good detectives, good spouses and great parents." Harry said.
"What is your personal relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo?" Freeman asked.
"Well, my wife, Frannie and I were never blessed with children of our own. Chris and
Rita have been like the children we never had. Julie, Sam and CJ have been like our grandchildren. All of have been a family." Harry said.
"So, you know Julie yourself pretty well? What can you say about the relationship between Julie and her parents?" Freeman asked.
"Objection, your Honor. Repetition" Edwards stood.
"Your Honor, we're trying to establish that a relationship had been established between Julie and these people and that she had been given a family, much to the dismay of counsel." Freeman defended.
"We've already heard a sob story from the ADA. Do we have to go through this with every witness?"
"Your Honor, we're talking about a kid here with feelings and heart. Not some stray dog. We're just trying to show the impact of Julie on her family and vice versa."
"Over ruled." the judge said.
"Thank you, your Honor. Mr. Lipschitz, please answered the question." Freeman said.
"Well, I guess you call it typical. Julie's a teenager. There are things that Julie thinks she'd old enough to do and wants to do that we call know she shouldn't. As any teenagers, she goes from one parents to the other and usually ends up asking her Grandpa, which is me. What can I say, she's got too much of her father in her." Harry said looking over his glasses at Chris. Chris just shrugged.
"Thank you, Mr. Lipschitz." Freeman smiled. "No further questions."
"Mr. Lipschitz, what kind of things does Julie want to do that her parents object to her doing? Like going to the movies? Going out with a boyfriend?" Edwards began.
"Objection. Leading." Freeman stepped in.
"I'll rephrase. Mr. Lipschitz, are the things Julie wants to do for normal teenage things?" Edwards asked.
"Basically. She's recently informed up that she wants to go into law enforcement and enter the Police Academy when she graduates college. She wants to become a detective like her parents." Harry said.
"Was she given any other choice?"
"Absolutely. If it was something that Chris and Rita could control, she's be a schoolteacher. But as any parents, when your child tells you they want to do something like that, you just want to protect your child. If Chris and Rita had been my won, I would've done the same thing. But when you know what you want like Julie does, there's no stopping them. If we hold our children back, how can we ever know what kind of parents we really were?" Harry said.
The courtroom was silent.
"No further questions your honor."
Chris and Rita saw the look on Freeman's face and for the first time, felt a little relieved. Julie noticed that Chris and Rita had slowly joined hands. She always thought it was sweet how they did that without realizing what they were doing. Like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. They were always doing something like that. They were never afraid of showing their love in public for each other or their children. Sometimes it was down right funny especially when Chris would forget and Rita was mad at him. They always did something to make her laugh or smile. Jake saw what she was looking at.
"You okay?" Jake whispered.
"Yeah. I was just thinking." Julie said.
"Hey, don't worry. Things are looking up." Jake smiled. With just a little hesitation, he reached and took her hand. She gratefully took it. She needed to believe what he said.
"My next witness is Mrs. Frances Lipschitz." Frannie scurried up to the stand.
"Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you
God." the bailiff asked.
"Of course, honey." Frannie said. Everyone with Chris and Rita couldn't help but smile. The judge raised a brow. So, this was the infamous Frannie Lipschitz he'd heard about.
"Mrs. Lipschitz, how do you know Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo?"
"Well, they work under my husband, Harry. I've known them for the last five years. Like Harry said, they've been like the children we never had." Frannie said.
"How long have you known Julie?"
"Since we went to visit Chris and Rita in Ft. Lauderdale two years ago. Then they all moved back to Palm Beach." Frannie said.
"What has your role been in this family?" Freeman asked. Frannie practically beamed.
"I've had the pleasure of calling Chris and Rita's children my grandchildren. I've even got pictures. I've got this really cute one of Julie." Frannie said as she started to rummage through her purse for the wallet that was more of a photo album that anything else. Julie covered her eyes, embarrasses because she knew which one Frannie wanted to show. Chris and Rita laughed softly because they also know which one she was talking about.
"Thank you, Mrs. Lipschitz, but that won' t be necessary." Freeman said with a chuckled. Even the judge couldn't help but smile.
"So, you would know a lot about Julie and the Lorenzo's. What is Julie like?"
"Her father." Frannie stated. "But I see more and more of Rita in her as she's grown up over the last two years. Julie has her own dreams for her own future."
"I understand you take care for the kids while Chris and Rita are at work. How does she interact with her baby brother and sister?"
"Oh, they adore her. They know exactly when Julie's due home and they practically meet her at the door. She loves them, too. They're no different than any other brother and sisters. She is a little over protective of them. You should see them playing together. I even caught Julie and Sam playing dress up one afternoon in our attic. It was just the cutest thing." Frannie said.
"Dress up, huh?" Jake teased.
"Not a word, Meyerson." Julie replied, blushing more and more.
"What kinds of things do you two do together?"
"Well, we both love to try new recipes and we try them out on Harry. I also grow herbs." Frannie said, matter-of-factly.
"Yes. I use Chinese herbs. Especially for my Heschy's allergies. I also use it on the kids when they have a cold. It really helped Julie the last time she had the flu. You know, she talked me into buying a computer and she helped me catalogue all my herbs and taught me a little about that Internet thing. There's a lot of good information out there." Frannie said.
"So, you would say that Julie's perfectly happy where she is?"
"Absolutely." Frannie said.
"Thank you, Mrs. Lipschitz." Mr. Freeman said. Mr. Edwards got up as soon as Mr.
Freeman sat down.
"Mrs., Lipschitz, you said you take care of the kids while Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo are working. What about the times that they're called out in the middle of the night?"
"Julie watched the twins until I get there." Frannie said.
"They leave two year olds in the hands of a teenager?"
"The twins are usually asleep and I get there within half an hour of them being called out." Frannie explained.
"Does that bother you?"
"Absolutely not. Harry's their boss, so I know when they get called out. And when you've been married to a police officer as long as I have, you'd know that you get used to it. Taking care of Chris, Rita and the children has never been an inconvenience, but always a pleasure. A child is never an inconvenience and I'm ashamed that you would even say such a thing. A child is a gift from God to be loved and treasured no matter how mad they make you. They've made Harry and I a family and a family works together and they love each other. That's exactly what we do. We love one another." Frannie explained, almost in tears because it came solely from the heart.
"No further questions, your Honor." Edwards said.
The judge sighed. "We will break for lunch. Court will resume at one o'clock." Judge Carter said. "All rise." the bailiff said. Everyone stood while the judge left. Tracy and Wally stormed out followed by their attorney.
"Well, I hate to say one way or the other, but things are definitely looking up. We get through you two and Julie and we'll be in the cleat."
"Thanks so much." Chris said.
"Hey, like I said, it's not over yet. You guys get something to eat and relax for a little while. We've still got the home stretch to go." Freeman said and walked out. Chris and Rita turned their attention to Julie. "C'mon, what say we have lunch at that little place down on the beach? Get some fresh air." Chris suggested as he put an arm around Julie.
"Actually, I was thinking I'd like to see this picture that Mrs. Lipschitz was talking about on the stand." Jake teased as he moved closer to Frannie.
"C'mon, I'll show you all my pictures." Frannie took the boy by the arm and led him out.
"He'll regret he ever asked." George shook his head.
"We appreciate you guys coming down. We know both of you have a lot of work to do." Rita said with an arm around Julie as well.
"Actually, I got someone to cover for me for the rest of the day." George said.
"And if there's something that really needs my attention, they know where to find me." Harry said.
"Thanks a lot." Chris said.
"Hey, we've been friends too long and we love this little girl, too." George said as he smiled at Julie. "Besides we need someone else around here who can do paperwork as well as Rita."
"Are you implying that my paperwork isn't up to your standards?" Chris asked, feigning shock.
"For lack of is a better word. " George answered.
"That's okay. I still love you, Dad." Julie smiled.
"At least someone does." Chris pouted.
"Ah, how cute." A voice said from outside the doors. "The little sailor suit is just adorable. Can I have a copy?"
"Oh, no. She showed him that picture." Julie said. "Grandma, don't show him that picture." Julie ran to stop Frannie from showing anymore.
"Oh, honey, calm down. You're adorable."
"Yeah, you look like a little china doll." Jake teased.
"Shut up, Meyerson." Julie said. Chris and Rita just shook their heads and they all laughed. They arrived for lunch and ordered.
"I'm not really hungry." Julie said as the sandwich was placed in front of her.
"Yes, you are." Jake said.
"And just how do you know?" Julie asked, defensively.
"Because I rode with you down here. You may not be hungry, but your stomach is." Jake said. "Besides, you're not doing yourself any good if you're run down." Julie looked at him and saw the concern there. The others were trying to give the two a little privacy as could be given at the small table. With a sigh, she began eating the sandwich.
"Well, so far, so good." Chris said, glancing at the kids.
"Yeah. We get through this afternoon and everything will be perfect." Rita said, also noticing Jake's attentiveness.
"Parfait, Sam, parfait." Chris added with a smile as he watched his daughter finally show something of an appetite.
Lunch was unusually quiet for everyone involved. Jake had never known them to be this quiet. That's what he loved about the Lorenzo-Lipschitz family and why he wound up spending a lot of time with them. When it came to his family, if it didn't include some high society, then family time was on existent. Especially for Julie's sake, he wished there was something he could do. He cared about her so much. She was the best friend he could've ever asked her. Soon, it was time to head back to court and prepare for an afternoon that everyone knew wasn't going to be easy. If only they knew just how tough it was to be.
"All rise for the Honorable Judge Grant Carter." the bailiff said.
"Please be seated. Case number 092822 Peters vs. Lorenzo." the judge said and sat down.
" Mr. Freeman, you may continue with your witnesses."
"Thank you, your Honor. I call Christopher Lorenzo to the stand." Freeman said. Rita gave her husband's hand a quick squeeze before he headed up to the stand. He was sworn in and Chris took his seat. He'd been in this position before, but it was to put away the bad guys. Not he was here to defend his rights as a father and to try to keep his daughter from going to a complete stranger who called herself Julie's mother. This was unfamiliar territory for all of them.
"Would you please state your whole name for the court?" Freeman began.
"Christopher James Lorenzo, Sr." Chris said.
"We've established that you and your wife are detectives with the Homicide Division of the Palm Beach Police Department. Could you tell us a little about your job?"
"Well, we investigate high profile crimes her in the Palm Beach area. Usually they're homicides. Silk Stalkings was the little pet name Rita and I had for them." Chris explained.
"I understand that you and your wife, who is also your partner, have a perfect arrest
"Yes, it can. But we're not the only ones working the Silk Stalkings detail anymore. There's another team, Sgts. Tom Ryan and Cassandra St. John. Since they came on the scene, our case loads have actually gone down." Chris said.
"Have you ever been shot in the line of duty?" Freeman asked.
Chris sighed heavily. " Yes, I have. That just comes with the territory." Chris said. "A couple of times, very seriously."
"How many children do you have?"
"Three. Julie and the twins, Christopher James, Jr., who we call CJ and Samantha Lee." Chris said.
"Have you been shot since you had children?"
"I've been lucky to say no." Chris said.
"Mr. Lorenzo, how did Julie come to be with you and your wife?"
"Rita and I are living in Ft. Lauderdale at the time. The twins were barely two months old. Tracy showed up and asked if I could take Julie. When she did, she asked also that I not tell Julie that I was her biological father."
"Was that the first you had heard about Julie?"
"Yes. I hadn't even seen Tracy since we split fourteen years earlier."
"Why did she leave Julie with you?" Freeman asked.
"Because her ex-husband had passed away and she was moving to New York. She didn't think it was right for her to take Julie with her at that time. From what Tracy said, her ex-husband and Julie believed they were father and daughter when I was actually her biological father."
"When did Julie find out the truth about her paternity?"
"She over heard a conversation Rita and I had in the nursery about three weeks after she came to stay with us. We had one of the baby monitors in the kitchen. That's not how I had intended for her to find out." Chris said.
"How did she react?"
"Like I would've given the circumstances." Chris smiled her. "She was angry that we hadn't told her the truth from the beginning."
" So, she's not the type who likes to be lied to?"
"Not in the least. Just like this whole situation. As much as we'd like to protect her from
the whole thing, Rita and I have been perfectly honest with her." Chris said.
"Earlier, there was an incident that was brought up about a kidnapping. Could you tell us a little bit about that happened?" Freeman urged.
"Before Rita and I got married three years ago, Rita was seeing a man by the name of Eric Russell who was acting as a consultant on the Seaside Strangler case. When Rita started dating him, there were alcohol problems that she didn't know he had. When Rita broke it off with him, he held me responsible from the time problems started with them. Then he disappeared and Rita and I got married. About two years later, he showed up and wanted revenge because he felt that I had taken Rita from him. By that time, we had the twins and Julie. He kidnapped Julie to get back at both of us." Chris explained.
"How did Julie come through that?"
"Well, she kept her head and got out on her own. When we went to arrest Eric Russell, he got the drop on me and if it hadn't been for Julie, I probably wouldn't be here today. After all was said and done, she helped put Eric Russell behind bars for a long time to come." Chris said, proudly. Even if everyone thought it was strange that a fourteen years would get herself out of a situation like that, he was proud of her. She was a tough little cookie.
"Mr. Lorenzo, when Julie came to live with your and she found out that you were her real father, how was the relationship between the two of you?"
"At first, it was very strained. She felt I had lied to her though it was no fault of hers or mine. If it had been up to me, I would've told her from the beginning. Not to mention when she came to us, she believed that the man who dies was her father and now she was being dumped with perfect strangers." Chris said looking at Tracy, who looked away. "It took some doing, but the five us became a family."
"Had you work interfered with your relationship with any of your children?" Freeman asked.
"Every now an then. That's just part of being a detective. In any profession, sometimes you just have time when work interferes. But the kids know that we're always there for them and that no matter what we're doing, they come before anything else." Chris said.
"Thank you, Mr. Lorenzo." Freeman said.
"Mr. Lorenzo, you have a very dangerous and time consuming job. And you said that your job doesn't interfere with your family life. Is it not true that you were quote unquote dead for seven of the nine months that your wife was pregnant?" Edwards began.
"Well, yes, but that was something that was done as a precaution any measure to protect myself, my wife and unborn children. Montoya would've killed all of us if he knew that I was alive at the time." Chris defended. "Our professional lives do no interfere with our personal lives."
"What about Deborah Bouchard? Didn't she almost kill you because you were having an affair with her and broke it off?" Edwards threw out.
"What?" Chris asked, feeling like the air had been knocked out of him.
"Objections, your Honor. That has no relevance to this case. We're trying to establish whom's the best suited for custody not digging up old lovers. What happened between Mr. Lorenzo and the late Ms. Bouchard happened three years before Julie came to live with the Lorenzo's and even before Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo ever got married. Not to mention that late Ms. Bouchard was unstable. Counsel's resorting to nothing less than mud slinging." Freeman said.
"I withdraw the question, your Honor." Edwards backed down, but he wasn't through yet.
"Mr. Lorenzo, it's been said earlier that Julie wants to attend college and the Police Academy. Have you got any idea how you're going to pay for it?"
"My father, Benjamin Lorenzo set up a college fund for all three kids. Rita and I add to it along with their grandparents." Chris said.
"But without a little help, you wouldn't have been able to send her to college?"
"We would've found a way to send Julie to college." Chris answered.
"What would happen to Julie if you were killed in the line for duty?" Edwards asked.
"Rita would get the children and they would be taken care of financially. I also know that Harry and Frannie would be there to help her and the children. If something were to happen, they'd be take care of." Chris said.
"And you are put in the situation where that could happen at anytime?"
"Not much anymore. Rita and I usually take only homicide cases." Chris said.
"But there's a chance that another incident of revenge could be taken out on your children to get to you or your wife." Edwards said.
"Mr. Edwards, like I told you before, our professional lives do not affect our personal lives. Because of that very threat, we keep our children as far from that possibility we can, but nothings full proof and nothing's guaranteed. I love children and would in no way and I repeat, no way, intentionally put any of my children in harms way." Chris explained, losing his temper a little.
"Thank you, Mr. Lorenzo." Chris got off the stand. He had a bad feeling that didn't go well. Julie looked over at Tracy, who looked up. Tracy smiled at her daughter, but Julie turned away. "My next witness is Mrs. Rita Lorenzo." Freeman said. Rita was sworn in.
"Mrs. Lorenzo, you've been the mother figure for Julie for the last two years since she was left in your husband's care. How has your relationship with Julie over that time period?" Freeman asked.
"Well, at first, rocky as the same with her father, but I like to think that we've built a strong relationship." Rita smiled as Julie smiled back in acknowledgment.
"What was Julie like when she first came to you and your husband?"
"She was a scared and grieving fourteen year old. From what little Julie has told us, she was in her step-father's custody but spent most of her time in a boarding school here in Palm Beach." Rita said.
"Were there any problems that Julie had when she first came to you?"
"Well, for the first six months or so, instead of having two kids up for nightly feedings, we've have all three up. There were many a nights we all would up on the couch sleeping." Rita explained.
"And why was that?"
"She was having nightmares that her mother would come and take her away. For some reason, she was afraid of her mother." Rita said. "When we moved back to Palm Beach, Chris and I decided to send her to a therapist when the nightmares started affecting her health."
"Has she had the nightmares anymore?"
"Not up until her mother showed up and served us with custody papers. Since then, we've essentially gone back to square one. We're practically having to force her to even eat a sandwich." Rita explained.
"Do you two spend much time together as a mother and daughter should?" Freeman asked.
"Objection." Edwards said.
"I'll rephrase." Freeman said. "Do you and Julie spend much time together?"
"Yes, we do. She's a big help at home and sometimes we take off and go to the mall or we'll go to a movie. Most of the time, she just likes sitting on the beach." Rita said.
"Does she have many friends or go out much?" Freeman said.
"She had several friends, but her best friend is Jake Meyerson who's here with her." Rita smiled at the blushing teenagers. "She goes out from time to time, sometimes we have to force her. She studies hard and just likes being at home."
"Mrs. Lorenzo, do you know of any time that Ms. Peters had tried to contact Julie in the last two years?"
"I know of one time about three months ago. I've always made sure that Tracy knew here we were." Rita said.
"In what ford did Ms. Peters try to contact her daughter?"
"It was a letter that I gave Julie. Julie told us last night that she didn't even open it. She just threw it away."
"Any reason why she'd do that?"
"Julie said that she had told her mother before she even came to live with us that she didn't want any contact with Tracy. I've offered several times to give Julie the address, but she's refused. I haven't forced her to have contact with her mother." Rita said.
"Does she happen to call you Mom?"
"Yes, she does. Julie asked me if she could call me mom just before we moved back to Palm Beach two years ago. I told her she could." Rita explained.
"Does she talk to you as far a typical girl-type talk?"
"Yes. She's a bit of a Daddy's Girl and he let's her get away with a lot." Rita gave her husband a look. "But she comes to me when she had a problem. Nothing against Chris, but there are certain things man just doesn't know. Especially when a girl is going through her early to mid teens."
"What about your relationship with your husband? How long have you two been married?"
"Three years. Four in December." Rita answered, still glowing after all this time.
"How long did you two date before getting married?"
"Well, we were partners for nearly five years. Though we never really never dated, we spent most of our time together anyway both and at home. But we loved each other from the very first time we met."
"What was it that kept you two apart all that time?"
"The department had a rule: Nothing physical between partners. Chris and I fought it for four and a half years before we could no longer hide our feelings fro each other." Rita explained smiling at Chris, who met her smile. Julie couldn't help but chuckled a little as they both got goofy grins on their faces.
"And what incident brought that about?"
"I was temporarily reassigned to a detective who had transferred here from Chicago, Sgt. Michael Price. At the time, Chris was seeing Jillian DuPree and he had gone to Boston with her to see if he could work things out with her." Rita paused. "He came back to be with me. When he returned home, Harry told him I had been involved with a car bomb that killed one of our suspects. That's when our relationship became more than partners and best friends. It was then we gave into something we'd known all along.
"And what was that?"
"That after all the people we believed we loved and all the heartache, it was always meant to be together and to be the family we'd never had. The day I found out I was pregnant and the day Chris put a ring on my finger was the day I knew myself, it was all worth it. Julie and the twins are just the icing on the cake. I love all three of my children and my husband more than life itself." Rita said, almost in tears.
"Thank you, Mrs. Lorenzo."
"No questions, your Honor." Edwards said. With that, Rita stepped down from the stand. When she walked by, she stopped and hugged her husband and they pulled Julie into it.
"I love you, Mom." Julie said.
"I love you, too, Julia." Rita said and gave her a reassuring hug.
"I think we should take a fifteen minute break. I believe everyone could use a break." The judge said when he saw the exchange between the three of them. They dismissed.
"C'mon, I think you guys could use some fresh air." Harry said. They all could. This was beginning to wear on everyone.
"This is not looking good." Wallace said as they walked down the hall.
"Actually, we have them right where we want them." Edwards said.
"We've still got the kid to go. I have everything set up."
"She's not going to be that easy to get by." Tracy warned.
"Are you kidding? Have you seen how shaken the kid is? We've got this made. Trust me." Edwards smiled.
"We don't get the kid, you don't get your money. Trust that." Wallace said.
"Like I said. We've got the kid." Edwards stated, firmly.
"So, how bad does it look?" Chris asked as Julie leaned on Chris and he put his arms around her.
"Well, we still have a fifty-fifty shot here. The judge had seen how close the three of you are and the rest of the family. He's also seen how much you love Julie and Julie loves you. We've also established the solid foundation of you and Rita. That's more than we can say for the six months relationship of Tracy and Wallace." Freeman explained. "So, Julie, you ready to tell your side?"
Julie sighed heavily and stood her own. "Yeah. I have a few things I'd like to say. Now's as good a time as any." Julie said.
"That's our girl." Chris said and kissed her on the forehead. With that, they headed back in for the last of the hearing. Then it would be up to the Fates for the final outcome.
"Your Honor, Julia Lorenzo has asked to speak in her father and step-mother's defense." Freeman began and turned to Julie. "Julia Lorenzo is my next witness." Jake gave her an encouraging smile and she headed for the stand.
The bailiff came up to her. "Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?"
"I do." Julie said and took her seat.
"If you would please state your whole name for the court." Freeman asked.
"Julia Elaine Lorenzo."
"Julie, how long have you been with your father?"
"A little over two years."
"How did you come to be them?"
"Tracy left me with Dad and Mom after the man I grew up believing was my father passed away suddenly of a heart attack." Julia said.
"What was your relationship like with him?" Julia glanced down at her hands then looked up at Chris and Rita who worried and puzzled by her sudden reaction.
"Julia, if you're not up to this, you don't have to do this." Freeman said.
"No. Now's as good a time as any for them to know the whole truth." Julia took a deep breath. "The man I believed was my father was Jerrod Miles. He was very well known financial advisor here in Palm Beach." Chris, Rita and the family just about dropped their teeth. Everyone knew the man, but no one knew he had a daughter.
"What was your relationship like with him?"
"Non-existent. I was about four when he divorced my mother and from what I understood, she willingly turned me over to him. I was raised by nannies until I was eight and then was sent to boarding school here in Palm Beach." Julie explained.
"What about holidays and summers?"
"I was either left at the boarding school during school holidays and summers I was sent to the expensive summer camps and returned directly to boarding school after that."
"What about Christmas' and Thanksgiving?"
"I never really had Thanksgiving and Christmas until I came to live with Dad and Mom." Julie said. "I never really saw or heard from Jerrod outside of money transactions that were sent to the school or summer camp. He pretty much kept me hidden."
"Did you ever try to contact him?"
"On several occasions, but he was always too busy with something to even talk to me. I really believed the man hated me. Now I know why. I wasn't his." Julie said. Chris and Rita couldn't believe what they were hearing. Julie had never said anything about her life with her stepfather. Now things in the beginning were starting to make sense.
"What about your mother? What was your relationship like with her?" Freeman asked.
"The same only I never tried to contact her. She's show up from time to time and take me to go back at Jerrod only to send me right back to boarding school. Usually, she wanted money. The last time I saw her was when Jerrod died." Julie said.
"What about now? How are things different?"
Julie smiled widely. "I have a family. I have a mother, a father, a baby brother and sister and grandparents." Julie explained.
"How do you feel about your father?"
"Well, like he said before, when I first found our the truth, I was angry. In the three weeks before I found out, he and I had some good times. We'd go and shoot hoops. Go for pizza, but things that meant the most to me was he actually talked to me. So did Rita. For once in my life, someone actually acknowledged I existed." Julie explained like that was just the most surprising thing in the world. "But we ironed things out and we have the kind of relationship I always wanted. He's the father I always wanted."
"What about your step-mother?"
"Well, Mom's the only mother I've ever known. She doesn't let me get away with half as much as Dad does, but she's always fair. She's never treated me wrong and she loves me like one of her own." Julie smiled. "She's always been there for me. I don't think I ever thanked her for all the nights I kept her up with he nightmares. Or the times I was sick. Or just needed a friend."
"Thank you, Julia." Freeman smiled. He was sure that her testimony had won the judge in their favor.
Then Edwards stood to ask questions. "Julie, is it not true that your parents told you
exactly what to say here today?"
"No. They didn't know most of what I told you until now." Julia answered.
"How convenient? Your stepfather provided you with everything a kid could want. A good education, money at your disposal and all the influence that came with the Miles name."
"The only thing he ever did for me was send to an expensive boarding school and make me feel like nothing. He hated me because he hated Tracy. I was always paying for her mistakes." Julie said.
"I think you're lying for your parents." Edwards flat out accused her.
"Objection, your Honor. He's badgering her."
"Approach the bench." the judge said. The attorneys approached the bench and the judge put a hand over the microphone.
"What Mr. Edwards is doing is uncalled for. She's a fifteen-year-old kid who's asked to be here. She's not being forced." Freeman said.
"I think she's lying for her parents. You can't tell me that a kid would willingly go to someone who can't possibly give her everything that her step-father did and her mother and new step-father can now." Edwards said. Julie, who was still sitting on the stand, looked over at her father who gave her a wink. She had overheard the objection being fought over at the bench and it enraged her that they only thought in terms of money and influence.
"Excuse me, your Honor." Julie broke in. The three men turned to her. "If you don't mind, I'd like to answer Mr. Edwards' question." Julie said. Everyone looked at Julie.
"Very well." the judge said. Mr. Freeman took his place. Chris and Rita looked at him and he shrugged.
"You think I'm lying for my parents. Well, I'm not. If it's one thing that Mom and Dad have taught me is that lies jeopardize your credibility and will come back to haunt you and you should never jeopardize yourself like that. And yes, I had the expensive education, the money, but I never had the influence like you think. My stepfather went out of his way to make sure no one actually knew about me like he was ashamed of me. You think that money and influence are everything, but they're not." Julie paused. "Here in Palm Beach people think that's all there is in life. What about the part where parents are supposed to love their children and their children love them? I hated Tracy and Jerrod. Mom and Dad, since the moment I came to live with them, have shown me nothing but the love I never had. For the last two years, I found out what it is to be part of a family that loved one another. Not one time in my whole life can I honestly say that about her. And it's not fair that she comes in and that she takes me away from my family just so she can feel better about herself. But then again, why should she change now?" Julie said. Julie looked over at Chris and Rita and he gave her his "I'm proud of you" smile and Rita gave her a wink.
"Nothing more, your Honor." Edwards said.
Julia jumped off the stand and ran into her father's embrace. "I'm so sorry." Julie said.
"It's okay. There's nothing to be sorry. I'm the one who's sorry." Chris said as he hugged her.
"Today has been a very emotional day for all involved. There's a lot of testimony to go over so I will dismiss. I will contact the attorneys when I have reached a decision." The judge said. With that, the judge dismissed the court. Chris kept an arm around his daughter as they headed out of the court. Tracy came up to them, but couldn't seem to find anything to say.
"C'mon, sweetheart. Let's go home." Chris said and the family headed out.
Julie was sitting on the beach alone. She needed to be alone right now, but Jake didn't agree.
"So, could you use a little company?" Jake asked as he sat down next to her.
"What am I going to do if she takes me away?" Julie asked, absently.
"She's not going to take you. Surely, anyone with any sense at all can tell this is where you belong. It's going to be okay."
"I wish I could believe that. I want a guarantee." Julie said as she turned to him.
"Jules, I wish with all my heart I could give it to you, but there are no guarantees in anything. If it's one thing I've learned, it's that. All we can do is hope for the best and handle what the cards deal us." Jake said. Jake put his arm around her shoulder and she leaned on his shoulder.
"Thanks." Julie said.
"What are friends for?" Jake said. But there was so much more in what they said that was only between them. Together, they watched the waves roll in and pray.
Chris was standing at the open French doors watching the two. Sometimes it scared him they were so close. It was only a matter of time before he would handing his little girl over to him. But right now, she needed that. He was lost in his own thoughts and fears. What if Tracy got Julie back? She'd already known such heartache and pain. It wasn't fair that she stood a chance to have to go back to that.
"They're cute, aren't they?' a voice said.
"Yeah. She's not such a little girl anymore." Chris replied.
"It's going to be okay, Chris." Rita said as she put her arms around him.
"I can't lose her, Sam. I can't lose any of my children." Chris said as the tears finally won.
"We won't lose her. We can't. We're going to be okay." Rita said. They were lost in their own embrace, both feeling the uncertainty and the fear.
"Chris? Rita?" Harry said as he broke them out of their world.
"Charles just called. The judge is ready with his decision." Chris and Rita looked at each other. This was it.
Everyone in the courtroom waited for the judge to come back in. There was little conversation going on in the room, since most of the people where simply waiting for the judge's decision. Julie just tapped her fingers on the table. "Dad, why is taking so long? I just want to get this over with, so I could forget about it. This has been a total nightmare." Julie said.
"I know...it's been a nightmare for everyone. Don't worry...everything is going to be fine." Chris said as he put his arm around his daughter's shoulder. Julie put her head on her dad's shoulder.
"I hope so." Julie whispered. Rita saw them and smiled at Chris and put her hand on top of Chris's hand. Then they all stood up as the Judge came into the room. Everyone sat back down and waited patiently for the judge to give his verdict. Judge Carter looked at the two families and let out a small sigh.
"This has been a very emotional case. Both families have good reasons of deserving the custody of a very young teen. A parent must be ready for the responsibility for watching a teen. And both parties are ready for it. It's just a matter of who's going to be better parents. Although the Lorenzo's have been successfully raising Julie, and I'm not going to take away that from them, there is the fact that they are in constant danger of parents of three being cops. Their job prevents them from time of being with their children. Ms. Peters and her husband do not have any experience raising a teen, but neither does anyone when they raise their first child. Ms. Peters is the mother and she deserves a chance to raise her daughter, like any mother should. And she and her husband can offer more for the child. So the custody of Julia is awarded to Tracy Peters."
"No!" Julie wailed, standing up! Tracy was hugging her husband, with a big smile on her face. Julie started to cry and Chris pulled his daughter in for an tight hug as she cried.
"Daddy, she's taking me away...I don't wanna go with her. She doesn't love me...daddy... I don't wanna leave Palm Beach." Julie cried. Rita joined in the hug as she wiped the tears off her face.
"We'll pick her up tomorrow morning. Make sure her things are packed up by then." Tracy said to Chris and Rita as she was leaving the courtroom. Wally just followed her, with a big smile on his face. Their lawyer just quickly followed them. George, Jake, Frannie, and Harry were just sitting in surprise and in sadness.
"I thought we still had a chance. I'm sorry it didn't work out. If I only..." Mr. Freeman said as he got up. George then got up, too. "Charles, I think they know you tried your best...I think they understand that."
"Yea..." Mr. Freeman sighed. He left the courtroom. "I'm going to go talk to him... " George said. Harry nodded and George left the courtroom, too.
"I need some fresh air." Frannie said quietly. She stood up quickly and rushed out the room before she burst into tears. "Frannie.." Harry followed his wife out of the room.
Jake just sat there with his face in his hands. "I can't believe that happened..." he said to himself. Julie still cried as he father held her.
"Everything is going to fine, Julie." He said to her.
"How? I'm going to leave tomorrow...and...I'm going to live with people who don't care for me...how is everything going to fine?" she said as she looked up to her father. Chris looked at her face, a face red with tears and hugged her tighter.
"I don't really know..." Chris said as his voice trailed off.
The ride home was a very quiet one. Even the twins, who had stayed with a family friend that day, knew something was wrong. When they finally reached home, Julie quickly got out of the car and ran towards the front door. "I'll take these two in. You go talk to her." Rita said as she got out of the car. Chris nodded and he headed for the front door.
"Why did you get out of the car so fast?" Chris asked, as he unlocked the door.
"I didn't want Sam or CJ see me cry, because if they do, then they will start crying...and I have to start packing...I'm leaving in the morning remember?" Julie said angrily. Chris didn't say anything. He let her in the house and she ran up the stairs. Rita carried CJ while she held the hand of Samantha.
"Is she okay?" Rita asked, as Chris picked up Samantha off the ground.
"Well, she ran up the stairs, without telling me much, but I'm pretty sure she isn't a happy camper." Chris tried to laugh but he just let out a sigh. They both walked into the house and Chris just stood there in thought.
"Are you okay?" Rita asked.
"Rita, I promised her that everything will work out, that she was going to stay with us...but I broke that promise...she's going to hate me now." Chris said as put Samantha in the playpen in the living room. He sat on the sofa and put his head in his hands. Rita put CJ in the playpen and sat next her husband.
"She isn't going to hate you, Chris. She loves too much to hate you. She knows it's not your fault that she's..." Rita's voice trailed off. She put her head on Chris's shoulder. Chris put head up and took her hand in his and gave her a half smile.
"It's still not fair for Julie. Tracy doesn't love her. She wants something else." Chris said.
"Maybe Tracy just wants Julie back because she really loves her." Rita said.
"Maybe she give her back after a week. Figured out she really didn't love her." Chris suggested with a slight chuckle.
"No, if there would be any reason she gives her back, it would be because she reminded her so much of you."
"Is there anything wrong with that?" Chris asked.
"I don't think so. Besides, I'm used to it." Rita replied. Chris smiled at her and then got up.
"Where are you going?" Rita asked.
"I'm going to see how Julie's doing." Chris said. Rita nodded and Chris headed towards the stairs. Rita sighed and went to see how the twins were doing.
Chris went to Julie's door and knocked.
"I don't want to talk to anyone right now." Julie said from her room.
"I'm coming in, whether you like it or not." Chris answered back as he opened the door. Julie got up and tried to wipe the tears off her face as quickly as possible. "I need to pack all my stuff and I rather do it alone." She said as she walked towards her closet.
"Julie, it's okay to cry. I know this tough for you." Chris said as he stood in the doorway.
"Do you really? Do you really know how tough it is to leave a home where people actually love you and care for you to go to a place where they don't know you? I don't think you know how tough this really is." Julie said firmly. Chris just stood there. Then Julie just lost it. "I don't wanna go with her...I wanna stay with you and everyone here." She said as sat on her bed and cried into her hands. Chris held back his own tears and sat next to his daughter.
"Everything is going to work out fine." Chris reassured her.
"But how? I'm going to leave you guys tomorrow and live with two people who don't love me. I'm going to go to a new school, where they probably know everything about me. This is not fair. Why can't she leave me alone and let me stay here with you and Mom and the twins?" Julie said, as she wiped the water from her eyes.
"I'm sorry this has to happen to you." Chris said as handed her a Kleenex from the night table.
"Why? This isn't your fault."
"I promised you that everything would work out for us and I broke that promise."
"Oh, Dad. It's not your fault that the Judge thought I should live with Tracy and Wally. It's not fair but it's not your fault or Mr. Freeman's either."
"You're right. Why I am not surprised?" Chris said as he got up.
"I learn from the best." Julie forced a smile for her father.
"Do you need any help getting all your stuff together?" Chris asked he got up.
"Nah. I think I can do it myself."
"Well, you know where we are if you need any help." Chris said as he left the room. Julie let out a big sigh when her father left the room. She walked towards the closest and started pulling clothes out. As she did so, she started to cry and so the tears overcame her and she slid down the wall and sat on the floor crying.
Chris stood by the door, just thinking. He then walked down the stairs and sat down on the couch. Rita noticed Chris and knew something was wrong. "How is she?" Rita asked as she sat down next to him.
"She's not okay. But she's doesn't want to show it. She even forced a smile for me. But I know it's eating her inside. She's only a kid, Rita...why does she have to go through so much? Why does she have to suffer from our mistakes? Why does she have to go live with people who don't love her? She belongs here, with us." Chris said as he felt his eyes water. Rita took both of his hands in hers.
"Chris... this isn't your fault...this is no one's fault. We all are going to get through this...together. No matter what happens, you, me, Julie, Samantha and CJ are still a family. A judge can't change that." Rita said. Chris looked at her. He put his arms around her and they held each other in quietness that came over the room. This was going to be another tough time for them to get through.
The next morning was the toughest for everyone. Julie was up early, since she couldn't fall asleep at all the night before. She started taking her stuff down to the living room. Chris and Rita both got out of bed when the heard the noise coming from outside the room. Chris opened the door and saw Julie walking past them with a box in her hands.
"What are you doing up at 7 am?" Rita asked Julie.
"Well, if you'll remember, I'm moving today. Need to get ready when they pick me up." Julie said as she walked past them. Chris and Rita watched her go down the stairs. Then they saw her come back up. Chris grabbed her arm when she past them again.
"What do you want?" Julie asked.
"Julie, why are you doing this?" Chris asked. "I know you're not enjoying this."
"What do you know, Dad?"
"I know that this whole thing breaking you apart."
"Well, I don't have time to cry over this. I have things to do." Julie said as she glared at her father. Chris let go of her arm and she went back into her room. Rita gave her husband a look and he nodded. The both stood in the hallway and stay when Julie came back out.
"What now?" Julie said as she impatiently tapped her foot.
"You're going to stop this." Chris said.
"Because you're leaving and we should have breakfast together this morning." Rita answered.
"Because it's the last time we'll be together?" Julie asked.
"It's not going to be our last time together, Julia. This is just the last time we'll be together for a few months. You'll come back to us. I promise." Chris said.
Julie sighed. "You right. I'm sorry I've been a pain for the past day. But-" Julie said.
"We understand." Rita smiled at Chris and he nodded. Julie gave them a hug and they all walked downstairs. The rest of the morning they cooked breakfast and just talked. In the middle of breakfast someone knocked on the door.
"That can't them already! It's too early...I don't wanna go yet!" Julie said as she put her fork down.
"Calm down. Let me see who it is." Chris said as he walked to the door. When he opened the door, he was relieved to see Harry and Fran.
"Hi, Chris!" Fran said as she walked into the room. "Is Julie still here or have they...taken her away already?"
"No, she's still here. She knows she couldn't leave with out saying good bye to the two of you." Chris said as they all walked to the dining room. Julie smiled was she saw Harry and Fran and got up to hug them.
"I'm so glad you're here!" Julie said.
"So are we." Harry replied back.
"What do have in the box?" Julie asked as they all sat in the living room.
"Julia, don't be so nosy." Rita said.
"It's okay, Rita. This is for her, anyways, but we don't want you to opened until...well, you know.." Fran voice trailed off.
"It's okay. " Julie said as she put her hand on top of Fran's. "And I promise I won't open it now." Julie gave her a hug and smiled. Then they heard crying come from upstairs. Chris got up but Rita stopped him.
"I'll go, Chris." Rita said as she got up. She headed towards the stairs.
"I'll go help." Fran said, following Rita up the stairs. The rest of them just sat there in the silence, wondering what to say next. Julie finally broke the silence.
"Dad, do you know when they are going to pick me up?" Julie asked with a sadness in her voice.
"Well, Tracy's lawyer called yesterday and said they'll be here at 11 am, which is not for another.." Chris looked at his watch "...three hours."
"So, Julie, do know what school you'll be attending?" Harry asked.
"Not really. All I do know is that it's a private school. I probably going to wear some extremely ugly uniform and go to school with a bunch of stuck up snobs." Julie said with a light chuckle. "But I'm kinda sad that I won't be able to be the star of Palm Beach High. I was really looking forward to testing my acting skills...the rehearsals were starting next week, you know." Julie said as she tried to hold back the tears.
"Oh, Julie, you'll have the chance again to be a star." Harry said, trying to comfort her. Then the doorbell rang again. Julie got up and answered the door. She was happy and surprised to Jake standing there.
"Jake what are you doing here at this time of the morning? I know you don't like to wake up early, especially on the weekends." Julie said as she gave Jake a big hug.
"Well, you're my best friend. And I'll do anything for you, especially at times like these." Jake replied. "Hi, Chris, Harry." Jake said as shook their hands. "So what's going?" Jake asked.
"Well, actually, I still need to pack some of my stuff. Do you wanna help me, Jake?" Julie asked.
"Sure. I'm up for some manual labor. Not something I usually do. I like challenges. And with all the stuff you collect, that's a challenge." Jake said, giving her a big smile.
"Oh, shut up. You not Mr. Neat yourself you know." Julie said as they both walked towards the stairs.
"I hope that this whole thing doesn't ruin that friendship." Chris said as he watched them go up the stairs.
"Chris, if there's one thing I learned from you and Rita is that friendship always survives. Especially the special ones, like those two have." Harry said.
"I hope your right."
A couple of hours later everyone was talking in living room. Then they all heard a car's horn outside and they all looked at Julie.
"I guess it's time for me to go." Julie said with a half smile. Everyone got up and helped her carry her stuff to the waiting car. When all her stuff was in the car, she walked back in the house and look at everyone.
"I'm really going to miss you guys. You guys are the only family I know, and no matter what those two try, you will always be my family. I've learn so much from everyone here." Julie said. She gave everyone a hug. "Oh, daddy, what I'm going to without you?" Julie said as she hugged Chris.
"Everything is going to fine, Julia. We'll get through this." Chris said as he hugged his daughter back. Julie smiled and walked towards the door. She walked out the door and started crying when she got to the car, which was being driven by Tracy. She got in the backseat.
"Isn't this great?" Tracy asked as she sped off.
"Oh, yeah, it's just perfect." Julie said laced with sarcasm. Tracy just looked at her and smiled. Julie just looked at window and looked at home one more time. She was starting a new life that she didn't want. 'Hopefully' she thought 'this nightmare will end soon.'