Balki slumped on the bench outside the courtroom, his head in his hands. He couldn't believe that his life had come to this. Fighting it out in front of strangers for custody of his daughter. He raised his head slightly as the court warden ushered Maylea into the large room. Her eyes met his and he gave her an encouraging smile that disappeared as soon as the door closed behind her.

"How is she doing, Cousin Larry?"

Larry smiled at the familiar endearment that Balki had bestowed on him when he first moved to the United States. He circled his arms around his cousin as he exited the waiting room, pulling him close and giving him an enormous hug.

"She's scared, confused, sad. She's too young for all of this, Balki."

Balki sighed. "I know this, but it can't be helped. I never wanted this to happen." Who could have ever imagined that his fairytale marriage would end up this way? With him and his beautiful wife fighting, divorcing and battling for the love of their only child? "I wish they'd let me see her."

"You know you can't. They don't want you or her mother trying to force any opinions on her."

Her mother. Balki snorted. What a load of babasticki! She hadn't been much of a mother to Maylea in recent times. What kind of mother would verbally abuse her child – in public and in private? What kind of mother would spew hatred about her child's father – in front of the child? What kind of mother would beat her child – but only where no bruises would show? No, Chelsie might have been a good mother once, but something had happened to her and Balki was determined that she would never see Maylea again.