Disclaimer: I own nothing besides any OC characters in this story. Other characters are copyright by WWE and used here without permission or profit.
Author's note: I've been reading so many stories on here lately in wrestling that I couldn't help but be inspired to get back into writing again. I've already gotten several chapters written on this story, they just need typing up. I wasn't going to post anything until I was finished the entire thing, but I changed my mind. Hopefully I'll be able to do it justice and update frequently, especially once I've reached the end of the pre-written chapters.
Also, if someone is interested in beta-ing for me, please contact me. I've been contacting several betas for this story, but so far my responses have been none at all and one that couldn't at the moment due to personal problems so they wouldn't have time to do it.
Beth Britt paced nervously outside the courtroom doors, her cell phone clutched tightly in her hand as she desperately sought reassurance from her boyfriend, Jeff Hardy. The past two weeks had been an utter nightmare for her, starting with the summons she'd received stating that her older half-sister, Cynthia, was contesting their father, Roger Britt's will.
Beth hadn't seen Cynthia in ten years, ever since she'd run away following the death of their mother. And that was all her fault, too! Beth thought with a sudden vicious streak. Now, with father's death, she so conveniently reappears in my life!
"Beth, I really wish I could be there for you, darlin'," Jeff said sincerely, trying to keep his tone calm yet sympathetic at the same time. He knew all too well just how stressed Beth had been for the past two weeks - she'd barely discussed anything but the half-sister that had torn her family apart before Beth herself had even become a teenager.
"I know, baby," Beth said, sniffing gently. She ran a hand through her hair before she continued - both speaking and pacing. "But you can't skip out on work to hold my hand. Much as I would love that right about now." She took a deep breath, trying to quell the nausea building deep within her stomach.
"Things will work out, Beth," Jeff said with a confidence he didn't entirely feel. "That bitch doesn't have a leg to stand on. That money is rightfully yours."
"Yeah," Beth replied, nodding even though there was no way for Jeff to see the movement. She looked up to see her lawyer coming down the hallway directly toward her. The middle-aged man with pepper-gray hair and kindly blue eyes was motioning silently to his wrist watch, signaling that her time was just about up and they had to go back into the court.
"Jeff, I gotta go. Recess is nearly over, its time for the closing statements."
"Okay, Beth. Good luck, gorgeous. I love you."
Beth felt her body turn warm at Jeff's words. He was such an amazing - not to mention, unusual - man who had women throwing themselves at him, yet he'd chosen her to be with. She felt blessed to have him in her life.
"I love you too, Jeff. I'll call you when its over."
They each said a quick good bye and Beth closed her cell phone and turned it off before pocketing it. She turned to follow her lawyer back into the court room, murmuring a thank you as he held the door open for her. She moved past him silently, walking up towards her seat. As she lowered herself into the hard wooden chair, she heard the door behind her open again. Her entire body seemed to go rigid as she sensed the presence of her long-lost half-sister and the woman's lawyer. Potentially those two held the power to rip away everything her father had worked so hard for all his life, everything of which should have rightfully gone to her upon his all-too-recent death.
The judge returned moments later - a woman in her sixties with pale skin and long grayish-white hair pulled back into a tight, neat bun - and court was brought back in session. She gave the order for the lawyers to start their closing statements and Cynthia's lawyer rose steadily to his feet.
Michael Westmoreland looked to be in his late forties or early fifties with a surprisingly minor touch of gray along the sides and top of his head upon the hair line. The rest of his hair was a dark chestnut color. Judging by his physique, it was clear that he was a man who took good care of himself - ate right and went to the gym at least a few times every week. He cleared his throat and took a sip of water from the plastic cup that had been sitting in front of him, then returned the cup to the table. He moved around the side of the table and forward until he was mid-way between the judge's bench and the table he'd just vacated.
"Your honor, the facts in this matter are clear. Roger Britt was of sound mind and body when he made his will out more than twenty-three years ago. It clearly states that his entire estate was to be left to his wife and child. In the event that one might predecease him, that person's share would go to the other. Since Roger's wife has been deceased for ten years now, that leaves the only 'child' that could have been indicated in that will - my client, Miss Cynthia Britt. The defendant hadn't even been born at the time that the will had been written out. My client had been the legally adopted child of Roger Britt for nearly two years at the time the will was written. Legally, under the terms of the law, the defendant was not a child but a fetus at that time, and thus the will cannot apply to her."
Michael continued to use elaborate legal jargon to state his client's case, but Cynthia's mind barely registered what he was saying. She just sat there staring at her hands, folded and resting upon the surface of the table. Her mind wandered, unable to focus on what was happening around her. It was hard to fathom the circumstances that had brought her to this point, where she was using a legal loophole to take Roger's money away from Elizabeth. Yet given the chance, she would choose no other course of action. The money had the potential to do some good greater rather than whatever her younger half-sister had intended for it.
Cynthia nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a hand touch her own. Her gaze swung up to meet Michael's, who met her look with a kind expression.
"Don't worry," he whispered, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. "It's almost over."
Cynthia nodded, taking a deep breath. Michael was assured of their victory, though she was still skeptical. Succeeding on the strength of a technicality seemed like such a weak possibility to her, but she had been resolved through it all to place her trust in the middle-aged lawyer sitting next to her and she wasn't about to stop now.
Beth's lawyer rose from his seat.
"Your honor, this is not a case that should have ever made it to court. The plaintiff deserted her family for ten years. Ten years," he emphasized. "Clearly, she has only shown up now because she somehow heard that Roger Britt had passed away, looking to see what she might be able to benefit from his death. Greed is clearly a motivating factor for her. He may have adopted her as a child but, for his own reasons, he had no intention of remembering her in his will. That's why he left his estate to his wife and child, because he had no idea at that time what gender his biological child would be. Elizabeth Britt, the only biological child that Roger Britt has ever had, is the rightful recipient of her father's estate."
Cynthia watched the lawyer with a passionless expression as he stated Elizabeth's case while managing to slander her at every possible turn. She wondered what he - hell, even Elizabeth - would do if they knew the truth. But no, she was determined that they not know. Not even if her case was lost. Because that was something that she didn't need to know about. Despite the way they'd parted and hadn't seen each other in ten years, Cynthia still cared about Elizabeth. It may be in a fucked up kind of way, especially considering what she was trying to do here today, but what had really happened ten years ago was something that Elizabeth wouldn't be able to handle, especially considering how badly she had idolized her father.
Beth's - which is what Elizabeth had long preferred to be called - lawyer rested his case and returned to his seat. Silence fell as the judge looked at her hands, her fingers interlaced. Her chair swiveled a few inches from side to side as she considered the case before her in its entirety in the few silent moments that passed.
All eyes were on the judge and the air of tension in the room seemed to thicken as she finally lifted her head and surveyed the people in her courtroom.
"I believe that it was Roger Britt's intention when he originally wrote his will to leave his estate to his wife and as-yet-unborn biological daughter. For his own reasons, which I can not begin to speculate upon, he chose not to leave his adopted daughter something in his will." She paused, knowing that the defendant was feeling a spark of hope that she was about to win the case, and regretted that she was about to crush that hope. "However, it is my job to make decisions based upon the laws and not my personal opinion. Under the law, Elizabeth Britt was not legally a child but a fetus at the time the will in question was made. I therefore find for the plaintiff in this matter. All assets - the house and all of its contents, the car, stocks, bonds, and cash are now legally the property of Cynthia Britt." She brought her gavel crashing down, the noise signaling that the case was officially over.
Beth sat there stunned. How could this have happened? She wondered. She'd been worried about the outcome of the case, of course, but her lawyer had assured her that Cynthia didn't have a leg to stand on legally. What was she going to do? She had been living in her father's home ever since she'd been born. Hell, she'd been conceived in that house! She owned nothing in it except her clothing. While deep down she knew that Jeff would not allow her to become homeless, she couldn't help but picture herself roaming the streets, pushing her clothes in a stolen grocery cart. She immediately began to feel sick and she wondered if she would throw up in the next few minutes.
Cynthia had won but she didn't feel triumphant. It was yet another wedge driven between herself and Elizabeth, this one willingly created by herself. She got up and left the courtroom, feeling as though she could collapse at any moment. Michael seemed to understand how she was feeling and allowed her to leave without saying anything. He quietly gathered up his papers and left the courtroom, but not before making a brief stop at the defendant's table to inform Beth that she was expected to move out of her home as quickly as possible because the house, its contents, and the land beneath it would be going up for sale as soon as ownership of the house could be transferred into Cynthia's name. It was also implied that any deliberate damage done to the house between now and the time that Beth permanently vacated the house would result in charges being laid against her.
Needless to say, it was several hours before Beth felt strong enough to call Jeff and tell him she had lost. Even then, she began to tear up almost right away. Uncontrollable sobbing followed soon after, Jeff only being able to listen impotently on the other end as Beth cried her heartache out to him. In just a few brief moments so much had been torn away from her - more than just money or the monetary worth of the possessions left to her.
Once Beth's sobbing eventually lessened, Jeff instructed her to go home, spend the night reliving her memories, then the next day pack up what belonged to her and bring it to his house in Cameron, North Carolina. When Beth tearfully informed him that her car - the ownership papers bearing her father's name - now belonged to Cynthia, he told her he'd call Shannon and get him to help her move. He stayed on the phone with her for as long as he could, talking with her and consoling her as best he could from hundreds of miles away, but eventually his cell phone started to die and he was forced to say a temporary good bye to her.
Shannon Brian Moore - childhood friend of Jeff Hardy, and his older brother Matt - looked down into his trunk at the last remaining box that contained Beth's belongings. Beth was Jeff's girlfriend and his friend. When Jeff had called him yesterday, telling him the situation, he'd agreed to help Beth bring her things to Jeff's house. He didn't have to think twice about it.
How could anyone do something like that to someone as sweet and kind as Beth? He wondered. This sister of hers must be some real bitch.
Finally, Shannon reached into the trunk and pulled out that last box. It was roughly square, each side measuring approximately two feet in length, and a regular cardboard brown color. There was almost no weight to it, leading Shannon to believe that it contained nothing more than some of Beth's clothing. He carried it over to the house, going up onto the porch and walking inside the open door. Just inside, a meager pile of boxes, bags, and suitcases comprised all the possessions that Beth had been able to bring with her from her home. She hadn't moved anything yet - as Shannon had stopped in front of Jeff's home, the tears that Beth had been silently holding back had them burst forth, running down her face in a small flood. He'd encouraged her gently to go inside, telling her he'd carry her things in for her, and she hadn't hesitated to flee into the safety of the house.
Shannon continued to stand there, torn between leaving and going to see Beth before he took off. Considering both choices, he figured after a moment that he couldn't just leave her in her current state without trying to offer her some comfort.
Beth lay sobbing on Jeff's bed, tightly clutching one of his pillows to her chest, when Shannon found her. When she heard the door open, she immediately sat up, trying to compose herself.
"Oh, Shannon..." she said, swiping at the tears still making tracks down her face. She was still trying to rid herself of them when he sat himself gently beside her, looking awkwardly at his hands.
I need to touch up the black nail polish again... Shannon thought as he examined his fingers.
"I brought all your stuff in," Shannon said, then glanced at Beth. She avoided his gaze, not sure if she could handle the pity she was sure she would find in his expression. She managed a small nod to acknowledge that he had spoken.
"Do you want me to stay a while?"
Beth shook her head negatively. "No." She sniffed loudly, raised her head then just as quickly dropped it when she caught her reflection in the mirror over Jeff's black dresser. "No," she repeated. "I just need some time alone."
Shannon reached for Beth and pulled her to him, undeterred by the way she automatically stiffened at his touch. He wrapped his thickly muscled arms around her and waited, tucking her head under his chin. Soon enough she let go of her tension and returned Shannon's hug.
"I know things seem like they've turned to shit for you, Beth, but Jeff, me an' the other guys are all still here for you. Don't forget that, okay?"
"I won't," she replied, her voice partially muffled against his shirt. "Thanks for reminding me."
Shannon left Jeff's home a short time later. He still couldn't help but wonder what kind of woman this Cynthia was to have done what she did to Beth, her own sister of all people. He didn't know much about the woman, admittedly, as Beth had never spoken about her until the lawsuit had forced her to speak of the long-lost and much-loathed sibling, but from what he'd been told she had been nothing but a spoiled, selfish teenager and time had done nothing to change that. He found himself hoping that he never met the woman because he wasn't sure that he could hold back from verbally bitch slapping her if he did.