CHAPTER ONE

THE BATTLE PLANS ARE MADE

"So I found a lawyer whom is practicing just outside of Everwood. In Boulder. She agreed to meet with us this afternoon at two. Her name is Diane Shumacher. One of my lawyers in New York simply raves about her. After we meet with her and hear what she has to say – I'll double check with my lawyers in New York. Ask more than one of them. If Ms. Schumacher is all that she says that she is – than you have one firecracker of a lawyer." Andy said with a smile at Nina. "I called Mama Joy's and told them that you need to get your game on to keep Sam."

"Andy -" Nina said her blue eyes widen in sudden fear.

"They understand Nina," He reached over and placed a firm hand over her trembling one. "They understand that you are fighting for your son. They told me to tell you not to fear anything – that no matter what the coverage is there for your shifts."

"Andy -" Nina tried again to say what needed to be said. But the words just wouldn't come.

"Ephram agreed to pick Sam up from school. He and Delia will keep him company until you return to him." Smiling wide, "Ephram even promised not to give him too many cookies and ice cream."

Nina cracked a smile on that one. "He wouldn't be able to handle Sam if he gets too much sugar in him. Even with Delia running Sam as she does – my boy sure does have a lot of pent up energy."

"So I have cleared my day." Andy said, "I'll wait while you get your paper work done then we'll leave."

"Andy, I don't need you to come with me. I'm an adult – I can handle this on my own." Nina said pulling back into herself.

Andy shook his head, "Not this time Nina. I failed you as a friend last time. I'm not going to fail you this time. I'm going to be there for you, every step of the way this time. You aren't going to handle this on your own – never again." He put his right hand over her shaking ones once more. "I promise you. I give you my word that I will never ever leave you stranded again."

Tears sparkled in her blue eyes as she tried to keep them from falling. "I can handle the ground work on my own. I have filed for divorce my self, so I know what's it calls for." Shrugging. "I'll be fine. I'll come to you for advice like last time." Shrugging once more and pulling away from the table. Away from him. "I want to thank you for finding the lawyer, Andy. But I won't be using her. The lawyer that I used last time has offered to help me whenever I needed him." Smiling thinning as she leaned against her counter above her sink. "Go figure that I need him so soon. When I tossed the papers away – and Carl never came to help explain things to Sam," Shrugging and biting her lip, "I thought he wouldn't want to end it."

"Nina -" Andy tried to break in. He had just silently watched as the woman whom had become so important to him – in such a short time tried to pull herself together. He knew that she was in self preservation mode right now. Trying to stay strong – not just for herself – actually she would never do it for herself – but for her son. For Sam.

"But he wants a divorce from me." She laughed in a chocking voice, "I should have seen it coming. Hell I have seen it coming. When I discovered his condom in his jeans pocket – my heart and soul knew that my marriage was over." Tears rolled down her cheeks. "I knew that Carl choice another woman over me. I knew that I have lost my husband – the father of my child – my safety net in that moment."

He stood up and moved towards her. But stopped when she held a firm but very shaking hand at him. Licking his lips he just let her continue to talk. To allow her to get everything that had been pent up deep inside her to finally find it's release. Than he would gather her in his arms and never let her go. He would be her strength – her safety net. He wasn't going to let her down ever again.

"But than he used the puppy dog look on me – just begging me to keep him with me. He was just begging me to allow him to be my safety net still; even through he had crushed my heart into millions of pieces." Nina hand reached up and wiped away a few fallen tears. "I didn't want to give up that safety that I had …. so I opened my heart up again and brought him back in."

"Until his lover called. The moment I heard the pain in the man's voice – my world had come crashing down. There was no way I could gather enough strength to pick up some of the shades of my heart in that moment." Nina blinked. "I don't know how I managed to get through the final showdown with him. How I kept talking and talking – not allowing him to get anything out. I just kept talking – and talking – until I ordered him out of my life for good.

"I watched with coldness and empty as he walked out the front door that final time. I was numb to it all. Numb to the betrayal – numb to my pain – numb to my heartache." Nina sighed. "It wasn't until Delia and Sam came running into the house; that I felt myself move once more. Only those two kids saved me that day."

Andy had to break his silence, "Nina what are you saying?" His heart skipped a beat.

Nina blinked. She swallowed as she realized what she had just let slipped. "Nothing." She closed herself back up once more. "So meeting with the lawyer at two you say."

"Nina!" Andy said in a forceful voice.

"I have to be strong for this meeting, Andy." Nina looked him straight the eyes. Her hands were playing in front of her.

Andy sighed and nodded. "Okay, but Nina, after the meeting. I want to finish this." His head tilted to the right. "Understand."

Nina's eyes shifted off of his, "It is finished." She quickly moved passed him into her living room.

Andy turned around and just simply watched as she moved around gathering her things for the meeting. He didn't like the foreboding feeling he was getting off of her. Not one bit.

BOULDER: THE LAWYER OFFICE

"Looks straightforward." Diane said looking up from the file that Nina had given her on first entering her office. "I can get you to dollar for alimony and child support. I can make sure you get most of the joint custody deal."

Nina shook her head, "I don't want that." Her hands had been playing with her knee. "I just want what the state law is for alimony and child support. I want to share custody with him. Carl can see Sam whenever he wants."

Diane sighed and knew that she had one of those women on her hands. A woman that gladly allows someone to walk all over her – from the last strand of her hair to the end of her pinkie toe nail. Well she was the lawyer whom fought for women like these. She knew what to do and how to fight. She'll see that Nina Feeney got what she deserved from her weak of a marriage from Carl Feeney. He'll make sure that Mr. Carl Feeney would pay – and pay dearly for the rest of his life for the hurt that he had caused on the woman whom freely loved him – and against his own child.

Her eyes shifted to Doctor Andrew Brown – and watched as he tore his eyes off of hers and over to Nina. That one split second of seeing his eyes – she read the truth. A truth that neither person across from her was ready to admit. She was going to have a interesting time with her dealings with these two. She knew that even after she helped Nina through her divorce and custody battle – that she'll still be a part of both Nina and Andy's lives. She would make sure of it.

"I don't want any blood and guts." Nina said firmly locking eyes with her.

Smiling a thin smile, "No blood and guts. That's the fun part of my job. But I'll play it your way Nina, no blood and guts." Holding up a firm hand, "But I'm not going to help you share yourself down the river. I'm going to make sure that you get everything and beyond everything that you deserve."

Nina shook her head and lowered her eyes.

Diane sighed softly at how stubborn Nina was. She opened her mouth to continue, but she meet Andy's eyes and nodded. "I need some water. How about you?" Nina looked up and slightly shook her head, "Doctor Brown?"

"I could use water." He said with a smile.

She left her office and when she returned she actually saw a stronger Nina Feeney than before. Whatever Andy had said to her worked. Nina had new strength to her in being. Diane knew that she would be able to do her job without too much trouble from her client.

"I'll set to work on the motion. We'll talk on the phone as often as you need to, Nina. I would like to see you again in two days time." Diane closed the file. "I'll come to Everwood for this meeting. It's just the stranded meeting of looking over the paper work before sending it to Carl."

Andy stood to his feet and helped Nina to hers. He tucked her hand which had remained in his when Diane came back to the office – more closer to his side. Reaching out his free hand he shook Diane's hand. "Thank you for your time." He smiled.

"Yes thank you." Nina said numbly as she woodenly jerked her hand out.

Diane made sure to take the offered hand with both of hers, "Nina, I promise you that this will be over without too much pain. I'll make this go as quickly as I can. I give you my word of honor."

Nina just blinked.

Diane let Nina's hand go and just watched Andy lead the shell shocked Nina Feeney from her office. Sitting back down in her chair – she had work to get done. This was one case that she refused to lose or fail.

LEARNING THE COLD HARD EARTHSHATTING TRUTH

"Thank you for coming with me Andy, I don't think I would have been able to handle it on my own." Nina sighed as she rested her head "You seem to know when I need you to be my strength."

"I'm getting better." He sighed playing with a strand of her hair. The hair that had fallen into her eye. "I didn't always know when you needed me the most. After you told me the truth about Carl – I disappeared from you life. Completely." Licking his lips. "I'm so sorry Nina."

"You had, no, you have your own life to lead." Nina said staring into his eyes. "I can't and shouldn't expect to be the main forces of it." She cleared her throat. "Just so you know Andy, I don't think of myself as a center of your life. I know that place belongs to Julia, Ephram and Delia. As it should be." Her right hand lifted and clasped firmly on his which had stilled on her forehead.

"You and Sam are my family now too – Nina, you are the center of my life. My heart." He smiled, "I have a large heart and plenty of spaces open."

"I have never asked to be part of your family. Even through you have been part of my family – ever since I meet you outside." Nina smiled than frowned. "You didn't have to tell me that. I'm just happy to be your friend. I don't expect anything else."

Andy leaned forward and rested his forehead against hers. "You are my best friend. Actually you are my first ever best friend." He felt her brow winkle. "I know that Julia should have been my best friend. She had every legal and moral right to be my best friend. But she wasn't. She knew it. She knew that I loved her deeply and would never leave her. But she knew that I didn't consider her my best friend."

She blinked and pulled away from him. She pulled out of his hands which had covered her shoulders. Standing she moved away from the couch. Away from him. Sticking her hands in her back pockets, "You shouldn't have told me that, Andy."

"Why not?" Andy asked. "Why shouldn't I tell you the truth. That's what we are all about," his hand went to her than to him – than back to him once more, "total honesty. No hold barred."

"I know you still talk to Julia's spirit. Or the past memories of her." Nina frowned. "If ever comes to you as a present day spirit, than I don't want her to be hurt because of me."

"Nina that makes no sense whatsoever." Andy laughed as he stood to his feet. "Julia loves you."

Nina's nose crinkled.

"Julia watches over us all the time. She's happy that I finally listened to her advice by moving to Everwood. She has -" He stopped speaking.

Nina's right eye brow rose waiting for him to finish.

"Never mind." Shaking his head. "It's not for me to tell." He could tell that she was shutting herself off from him once more. He shifted gears. "I want to know what you meant when you said that Sam and Delia saved you that day. What were you planning on doing, Nina?" His heat rose as his anger rose, "What had Carl almost driven you too."

"It's nothing, Andy, it is in the past. It belongs in the past." Nina said in a toneless voice. "It had nothing to do with you. So you don't need to know."

"My daughter was in your care during that time. My freaking daughter, Nina." Andy growled deeply. "If you had done something and left my daughter alone, then as her father – I have a right to know." He knew that he had taken the wrong track on this, but it was too late. In for a pound. He was too worked up to stop now. "Answer me!" His voice rose as Nina just simply stood before him with a masked face.

Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her hands removed from her back pockets and wrapped tightly across her chest. "I'm so sorry Andy. I wasn't thinking. I was just so caught up in the heart. I just wanted it to end. I wasn't thinking or feeling anything else but the heart." She began to hyperventilate – she found strong arms around her and her head was in a chest. She could hear the frantic beat of a heartbeat. Closing her eyes and slipping her arms around the back of her safety line – she just broke down.

Andy had quickly moved over as soon as Nina began to freak out. He knew that within seconds she would soon be hyperventilating and wouldn't be able to hold herself up. She looked like she would fall forward – and he didn't want her to hurt herself against the coffee table. He touched her the moment she started to hyperventilate.

She pulled away after several minutes – that seemed like a lifetime to him. "When I saw Sam, I knew that had been selfish. That I would willing leave my son behind, all because I couldn't handle his father leaving me. For a man." She chocked around the sob that wanted to burst forth – one that she tried to fight back. The sob came forth nerveless. "Than Delia came in my line of sight – and I had a double whammy. I was so willing to leave it all – to leave my son, and to leave you behind to fend for yourself.

"I was being selfish, Andy, please forgive me." Licking her lips. "Although I can never forgive myself from what I was going to do."

"There's nothing to forgive, Nina." Andy softly said. "You were hurt and feeling betrayed – and drifting in an angry ocean. It was just a moment. Just a small moment." Searching her eyes he could tell that she was grasping for a hold to on to. He gave her that hold, "I forgive you Nina."

Nina nodded and sighed deeply.

"How about I get Ephram to watch Sam tonight," Andy began.

Nina shook her head. "N-no. I want Sam to remain here with me."

"Okay." Andy said with a nod of his head. "I'll cook us dinner. Help you get Sam ready for bed – than I'll,"

Nina stepped away from him – moving away from him. "You will spend the evening with Linda, as you have planned."

"Linda and I don't have plans for tonight." Andy broke in. He turned and faced her square on. "I'm not going to fail you this time around Nina. You aren't in any shape to be alone. Sam just a little boy – he's good at caring for you. But he shouldn't have to be your sole support right now."

"You go home and spend time with your kids. They need you." Nina said over Andy's protests. "I'm not going to be the one to take you from them." Her jaw tightened.

"Fine than." Andy sighed. "But, you and Sam are going to spend the evening over at the house. Sam is going to sleep in the guest room tonight." His right eye brow lifted. "That's the only deal I'm going to make tonight, Neen."

She sighed and turned and walked from the room.

END CHAPTER ONE