Saturday, August 12, 2017

Chapter 49 - Guilty

Rolled 17 - sick toddler

Leroy solemnly walked into the courthouse with Shea holding her hand. Reid’s fate was finally in the hands of the jury. They had deliberated more than a week but rumor had it they had finally told the judge they had reached a verdict. The judge would pass sentence, not the jury, based on the verdict.

Leroy had hoped they would come up with something before the jury reached a verdict. His P.I. said he was close and only needed to verify one other piece of information and it looked very much like Reid had told the truth. He had nothing to do with the fire.

Leroy walked in the courtroom and sat down with Shea. They sat in his usual spot. It was like church, he noticed, the regulars always went back to their same seat.  He got a sick feeling in his stomach when he saw Newt was there with his new squeeze which made him thankful Kate decided not to go. Baby Jordan was sick, but he felt like that was an easy excuse for her, but at least he had asked, and he didn't care.

He was shocked Newt hadn't tried to contact her. Maybe it was because they were going back and forth between Roaring Heights and Twinbrook or he really hadn't seen her that day and Miranda kept her mouth shut. Too damn many ifs...he knew it was just a matter of time. Maybe he was working it out with Reid? Who knew.

Everyone filed in followed a few minutes later followed by the judge. He explained what was going to happen then addressed the jury. The jury read the verdict. Reid was found guilty of arson and involuntary manslaughter.  Then he asked Reid and his attorney to approach the bench for sentencing.

Leroy knew exactly how Reid must feel. He felt a similar thing when he was 17 and sentenced to six months in Juvie. But this wasn't Juvie, this was prison. Reid was sentenced to 7 years with the possibility of parole in 2. A soft murmur ran through the courtroom along and sobs from Miranda.

When the judge motioned for the officer to take Reid into custody, Miranda lost it and jumped up screaming. Her husband had to hold her back.  Newt looked sick and his girlfriend comforted him while Reid's father held his own wife. It was heartbreaking to watch. He was very, very glad Kate wasn't there to see it.

* * * * * * * * *

Kaitlin was keeping busy rocking Jordan while Brooke took care of the remaining three children. Maddy was entertaining Hailey in the playpen even though she thought she was for babies. Sam was tearing through the apartment in the walker.

Now that the kids were settled, Brooke walked over to her and looked at her playing with her grandson. "I could have done this Kaitlin, you really didn't have to take off work," said Brooke, "Want me to take Jordan and give you a break?"

As soon as she said that, the front door opened and Leroy walked in. "Well, I guess so now that Leroy's here," replied Kaitlin and handed off Jordan to Brooke. After saying hi to Leroy, Brooke discreetly took Jordan into Reese's cubby, giving Leroy and Kaitlin some privacy.

“Hi babe,” said Leroy unable to hide his guilt and sadness at the verdict.

Kaitlin walked over and put her arms around him. “How long?” she asked.

“7 years. Guilty of arson and involuntary manslaughter,” he said and pulled her tighter.

“Ben…he’s going to be devastated,” said Kaitlin.

Leroy pulled back and looked at her, confused and shocked that she was more worried about Ben than Reid. Ben was a kid, he would get over it. Reid was losing years of his life.

“Kaitlin, an innocent man is being sent to prison and you're worried about Ben? I mean, I know we are all upset, but what about Reid? Don't you think maybe you are coddling Ben too much? Did you ask Shea how to deal with him yet?”

“Of course!” Kaitlin snapped back, “She said it was probably just normal pre-teen hormones kicking in. A phase that he should eventually outgrow. And this is certainly going to add to his horrible moodiness.”

“Baby, Reid is going to prison for 7 years. He will spend the prime years of his life locked up. Yet, you act like you don't care while it’s eating at me. What the hell?

Kaitlin took a deep breath before replying. “I can't think about Reid,” she said as she pulled Sam from the walker when he started fussing. “I have to focus on what I can control and there is nothing I can do about his situation. I am sorry that he is going to prison, but Leroy, he threatened Hailey and you. He broke into your bar. Did he set that fire to frame you? Probably not, but he did those other things which is why he is where he is. And now, Ben is going to be devastated. So yes, Leroy, I am worried about Ben.”

Leroy watched while she cooed and comforted her grandson and let what she said sink in. Then he realized they were arguing, sort of, and Kate wasn't trying to escape into herself. In fact, she was confronting it head on and remaining present. More progress? He felt his anger dissipate with that realization. Plus, she was right, she couldn't do anything about Reid, but he could, he hoped.

“Kate,” he said in a low voice since Sam appeared to be going to sleep in her arms. He waited and when she looked up he continued, “My P.I. says he may have evidence that will free Reid.”

She looked at him with hope in her eyes. “Really?” she mouthed so as not to disturb Sam.

“A possible videotape and confession that will prove who started the fire,” he whispered.

Kaitlin closed her eyes and tried to compose herself, but Leroy saw the lone tear slip out from under her closed lashes. He knew it killed her that Reid was convicted and was relieved that maybe they could help even though she didn’t seem to want him to know that. She quickly turned around and went to put Sam in his bed to nap.

Hailey and Maddy seemed to have just noticed that he was there. Maddy started calling him over to pick them both up. He reached in and lifted both girls out of the playpen while he waited for Kate to come back.

In that moment, Leroy made a decision. He was going to try and get Kate to go ahead and file for divorce. She was ready. So much stronger. She didn't need to wait and try to prove anything. Newt clearly appeared to have moved on. The sooner they could get married the sooner she could close the door on her past and they could move forward - without fear. Also, getting married and living together as a family may finally bring the stability that Ben desperately needed if it wasn't already too late. He hoped Shea was right and this was a phase he would soon outgrow.

To Be Continued

Go Back to Chapter 48 - Part 3

Monday, August 7, 2017

Chapter 48 - All Messed Up - Part 3 of 3

After settling Hailey in the high chair, Leroy turned around to face Kaitlin. He was so glad she didn't kick him out. She looked exhausted - like she had been crying. He figured it was because she already saw the news. And it was all his fault.

Leroy took a step toward her hoping she wouldn't back away. “Kate, I'm so sorry…” he started but the rest of his words were cut off because in the next instant she closed the distance between them and was in his arms, her face buried in his neck crying.

Leroy was shocked. It was all could do not to cry himself as he held her close and rubbed her back shushing her until she got control of herself. He felt horrible. All he could think was he did this to her.

Finally she pulled away. In a small voice she said,  “I missed you, the kids missed you too.”

That confused him. She was the one keeping them apart. If it had been up to him, he would have taken her home that night, not Reese.

“I understand why now,” she said, “Why you didn't tell me, but it still hurt and it was wrong. I know because I did the same thing to Reese. I thought I was protecting him. I'm guilty of the same sin of omission. He found out on the news instead of from me.”

Leroy felt for her. He knew she would be beating herself up over it. “Kate, I'm so sorry. That's actually why I came. You know I wouldn't come over unless you said okay. It's been killing me, but when I saw the news this morning I had to. I wanted to warn you. To be the one to tell you. I was too late."

"I was going to tell Reese this morning," she went on explaining, "I actually came in here to do it, but the news was on. He already knew. So I told him. I told him everything."

Kaitlin pulled back to look at Leroy as if to study him. He knew he looked like hell. He had hadn't shaved, eaten or slept. He had lost weight and had dark circles under his eyes. "Are you okay?" she asked, "You look like you are sick."

"Just a broken heart is all," he said with a little chuff, "I'm fine now, but I won't lie, it's been hard thinking I might have lost you. I haven't, have I? Lost you that is." He worried maybe she might not have forgiven him.

"No, Leroy. But I..."

He didn't want to hear more. No was enough. "Wait," said Leroy stopping her, "Please don't say anything more. I need you to know something. Newt knows. He knows you are here.”

Kaitlin held her breath and started taking short quick breaths. Damn, she's panicking and breathing too fast, he thought. “Kate, stay with me sweetheart. Deep breaths, okay?" he said in an effort to calm her.

“I'm here,” she choked out and began taking deep breaths as he instructed.

He relaxed. Obviously Newt hadn't shown up on her doorstep yet. He was thankful at least he was here and able to tell her before that happened. “Thank God. really are better,” he said somewhat surprised. Shea was right. She was learning to control her panic attacks.

Kaitlin interrupted him and said between breaths, “promise me…you will never keep a secret from me again....Ever. No matter what. If you ever do I don't know if I can for-…”

“Shhh. Please don't say it. Never again,” said Leroy relieved that she wasn't going to kick him out, “I was so afraid. I can't lose you. I just can't. I can't help it, I just want to protect you, keep you happy. But I won't leave you out. Still, I'm still glad you weren't in the courtroom. It was bad.”

“Tell me. I need to know,” she said looking at him like a deer in headlights, “Don't leave anything out. The news said they were wrapping up on Monday.”

Leroy pulled her back to him and gently rubbed circles on her back trying to keep them both grounded before he continued. “They played the tape I made in the hallway," he said softly, "You were mentioned and Dakota and Hailey.

They stopped it and asked me to clarify who the people in question were and my relationship to them. What incriminated Reid was his knowledge of things that weren't public knowledge. And it gave him a motive to frame me. The ‘love triangle’ the news called it.”

“Oh my God,” said Kaitlin. “And Newt heard it all...he knows that Reid and I dated and that I had your baby. He has to be furious. He’s going to find me and take the kids…and, and...”

Leroy was worried about how she was handling this information. “Kate, you still doing okay?” he asked. She nodded so he continued, “Yes, he heard it. They did their research. They knew you were married and asked if I knew when we started dating. When they began talking about our relationship, and Newt realized it was you they were talking about, he wouldn't look at me. In fact, he looked miserable, the woman he was with was holding his hand. Cassandra was crying and her husband was trying to comfort her.  After we recessed for the day, Newt tried to approach me but his father held him back.”

“He's going to call me. What am I going to do?” asked Kaitlin weakly.

She was probably right. He couldn’t leave her alone now. “Don't worry sweetheart. I will stay with you. You aren't alone. You still okay?” he said.

“Yes,” said Kaitlin and then jumped when the phone rang. It was a local number, but not one she
recognized so she showed it to Leroy. He took it from her and answered for her. If this was Newt there was no way he was going to let him talk to Kate.

“Hello,” said Leroy.

A male voice said, “I need to speak with Kaitlin Murdock please.”

“Who is this?” asked Leroy suspiciously.

“Police Officer Johnson, now may I please speak with Mrs. Murdock.”

Shit, it is Newt and he has engaged the police, thought Leroy and he sat down at the table. “What is this about?” he asked.

It concerns Benjamin Murdock, now I need to speak with Mrs. Murdock, unless you are the boy’s father.”

Ben? God no! Please don't let him be hurt, thought Leroy. “No, I’m not. Hold on, she's right here,” he said before placing the phone on mute and laying it on the table between them. "It's Ben. I don't know what happened."

Kaitlin left the phone where it was and put it on speaker. “This is Kaitlin Murdock," she said wringing her hands.

“Mrs. Murdock, this is Officer Johnson with the Twinbrook police department. Your son, Benjamin Murdock, was caught shoplifting several video games at 'Games Galore'."

"NO! It must be a mistake. Ben would never do that!" she barked out.

She and Leroy listened as he continued. "Ma'am, calm down. The boy, Benjamin, he had them under his coat and walked out with them. The shop owner wants to file a complaint. I need to take him to the station so we can take care of this. Since he's only 10, you can come here and follow us to the station and he can ride with you instead of in the squad car. Reese, your older son and the little girl, Dakota are free to go but the young man doesn't want to leave until you get here. Once at the station you can pay the fine and he will be released to your custody. Any questions?”

Leroy watched as Kaitlin went pale, “There must be some mistake," she said, "Are you sure he wasn't just looking at them?”

“We are sure ma’am. As I said, he was outside the store with them inside his coat. Now are you coming or do I have to take him in?”

“I'm on my way,” she said and hung up.

“I’m so sorry Kate,” said Leroy when she disconnected the call, “I can call a sitter or Brooke to come stay with the kids so I can go with you.”

“No. I need to take care of this myself. I will go right now so Reese and Dakota can leave. I don’t know what he was thinking. He is so grounded!" said Kaitlin fuming, then as an afterthought asked, “Are you okay with 4 babies?”

It was all Leroy could do to let her leave without him. He wanted to be sure she was okay, “Yes. I will manage,” then he sighed and said, “Two hundred and fifty dollars.”

“What?” said Kaitlin looking at him like he lost his mind.

“The fine. It's $250.00. At least is was a few years ago, I hope it's not more,” he said.

Kaitlin blew out a breath, “Yes. Grounded and lots of extra chores. Happy birthday to Ben,” she said with a hitch in her voice as she turned to leave.

* * * * * * * * *

Kaitlin marched Ben into his cubby when they got home and thoroughly lectured him. Then she grounded from his video games and assigned extra chores for a month. She also demanded he apologize to the store owner and to Reese.

* * * * * * * * *

Three days after the ‘incident' was Ben's 11th birthday. Kaitlin, Leroy, Reese and Brooke all got him gifts and Kaitlin prepared his favorite chocolate cake. Ben opened his gifts muttering halfhearted thank you’s, then stomped off to his room leaving everything on the table claiming his stomach hurt and didn't want any cake.

Kaitlin's heart was broken. She got up to go to him, but Leroy stopped her, “Give him a couple more days Kate. He's still really angry. Maybe you should mention this to Shea next time you are together. I'm sure she could give you better advice than me. When is your next session?” he asked.

Go to Chapter 49

Go Back to Chapter 48 - Part 2

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chapter 48 - All Messed Up - Part 2 of 3

It was Saturday and Reese didn’t have to work. This morning was going to be the day Kaitlin told him the truth.

When Kaitlin walked into the darkened living room, she saw the glow of the television and heard the soft murmur of the sound turned down low. Reese was already up watching the news, his baby boy napping in the baby swing. The rest of the children were still asleep. Jordan must have woken up and Reese brought him in here to care for him so he wouldn't wake Ben and Sam.

Kaitlin took a deep breath, walked over and sat down next to Reese. She figured this was as good a time as any to get it over with. “Reese, we need to talk. I have some things I need to tell you," she said quietly so she didn't disturb the sleeping baby.
Instead of answering her, he looked up at her looking like he had seen a ghost. “Reese, are you okay? You look sick.” she asked worried.

“Look….it's Dad...he's here. It's all over the news. And, and Mimi and Papa too," he said as if in a trance.
Kaitlin’s heart sank. It was good thing she was already sitting down. What had she done, waiting so long to tell him? “Oh, Reese,” she said touching his arm, “I was just coming to tell you this. I had no idea it would be on the news. I'm so sorry.”

Reese ignored her and pointed the remote control at the TV and began to rewind the segment about Reid's trial as Kaitlin sat there helplessly and watched.

Reese stared at the TV and kept talking as if he was talking to himself and working out what he had just heard, ignoring her completely, “That's why they look so much alike. Their mother’s are twins. Then why didn't we know Reid?”

His whole demeanor suddenly changed and he got angry as if he just noticed her presence beside him. He looked at his mother as the realization hit him and he spit out, “Reid’s my frigging second cousin! You dated your cousin!”

Kaitlin didn't know what to say. He was right. It was all so messed up.

Reese suddenly got quiet again when the segment began to re-play. They couldn't play the actual testimony but what little they reported on was scandalous. It talked about a love triangle and showed Reid's relatives there to support him. They reported the local playboy had gone off the deep end for the love of a woman. At least they didn’t say her name.

Kaitlin picked up the remote and turned off the TV, tears streaming down her face. She couldn't watch anymore. When would these damn tears stop? she thought as she turned to face her son. She sniffed and tried to gather herself before telling Reese the rest of the story.

“Reese, he not just your father's cousin, he's more than that. Reid is your father's half-brother. He is your Uncle,” she said quietly.  

“No” he said slowly, “They said Dad was his cousin.”

“Listen to me Reese. Let me finish,” she said, “Papa is Reid’s real father. That’s why we didn't know them. Miranda and Cassandra were estranged once she found out her husband fathered her sister's child. Miranda was forced to leave town with Reid and they moved here,” she let out a little huff, “Small world.”

“That's just screwed up. No wonder Dad was an asshole, just like his father!” he shot back at her.

Why had she kept this from him? “I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. It was a lot for me to take in too. And Reese, there's more. Reid knows who I am, that I am his brother's wife but he hasn't told your father yet, at least I don't think he has. His step-father, you know, the police chief, also knows and by extension I would assume so does Reid’s mother. It's just a matter of time."

“Is that why you broke up with Reid?” he asked.

“No...” she started to say but the buzzer sounded interrupting her and she jumped. She and Reese exchanged a look. She stood up and turned on the lights. She was way too jumpy since seeing Newt. She kept expecting him to show up unannounced demanding the kids back and throwing her in jail.

She answered the buzzer while Reese watched. She was both relieved and angry when Leroy’s voice came over the intercom. “I'm coming up,” he said in a tone that allowed for no argument, “I just didn't want to walk in unannounced.”

Reese sneered angrily, "I will make him leave. Don't worry."

Kaitlin sighed. She knew the time would eventually come when she would have to face Leroy but she wasn't ready yet. Once again, he took the choice away from her but maybe he needed to. She didn't know if she would ever have been able to make the first move.

“No baby,” she said shaking her head, “But would you please take Ben and Dakota to the park or maybe for ice cream. Just give us an hour.”

“Are you sure you will be okay alone with him? What if Daddy shows up while he is here?” he challenged.

“Reese, Leroy isn't the enemy,” explained Kaitlin and smiled weakly, “we just have some stuff to work out, but thank you for looking out for me. You always have. I hope Daddy doesn’t show up, but if he does we will deal with it. Please go get Ben and Dakota up. Try not to wake Sam and the girls.”

Reese grunted and got up to go roundup the two older kids.
When Leroy walked in Dakota launched herself into his arms still in her pajamas. “Daddy! Daddy! Reese is takin’ me and Ben to the park and if we are good we get to get ice cream! Can you come too?” she squealed.

Ben walked in already dressed and glared at Leroy then rolled his eyes at Dakota. “Moooom,” he whined, “I want to go to ‘Games-N-More’, not the stupid park."

“Park first Ben, then you can stop by the game store on the way home, but you're not getting anything,” said Kaitlin, “your birthday is coming up.”

Ben turned his back and mumbled under his breath, “Yeah and I will probably just get another dumb baby toy."

Kaitlin didn't hear him but knew it was something ugly. “What did you say young man?” she said in her best 'don’t mess with mommy' voice.

“Nothing,” replied Ben.

Leroy shot him a frown as he peeled Dakota off of him. He answered her question instead of saying anything to Ben. “Maybe I can come next time sweetie. Mommy K and I have some grown up things to discuss. Come on I will help you get dressed.”

A few minutes later, Leroy, carrying Hailey in his arms, came back into the room with Dakota following on his heels, dressed and ready to go.

Reese, Ben and Dakota left, Dakota jabbering all the way out the door, leaving Kaitlin alone with Leroy.

Kaitlin didn't know what to say to Leroy, so she busied herself rewinding the baby swing for Jordan and watched as he snuggled their daughter until she giggled before placing her in the highchair and giving her cereal. She could barely breathe as she watched the tender moment between father and daughter. What had she been thinking keeping them apart for as long as she did. How could he not hate her?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chapter 48 - All Messed Up - Part 1 of 3

Day 48 - Rolled 7 -  If you want to know what it is click here. 😈

A/N: I struggled with the font for some reason. It seemed too small so I tried to make it bigger. Let me know if this is too big. It looks bigger in draft than it does when I publish it. 😏 Now back to Kaitlin and the gang!  

Leroy could barely function. He couldn't eat or sleep. Kate had ignored his texts and phone calls for 8 days now. He knew he messed up bad. He should have listened to Shea and told Kate that Newt was in town. 

Kate had been doing so much better. Not being able to talk to her, he imagined the worst. Did he cause her to go backwards into some kind of breakdown? Did she hate him? Was she sick? Did Newt find her? God he didn't want to think what might happen if Newt confronted her and he wasn't with her. 

She had been through so much heartbreak in her life. All he had wanted to do was protect her and all he did was prove to her that all men were assholes and couldn't be trusted.

After Kaitlin left with Reese, Shea made him sit down and talk. ’Give her time,’ she said, ‘Did you see her backing down? No. Did she escape into her head?’ Shea said ‘No’ but he saw her when she saw Newt. She was gone as soon as she said ‘It's him.’ He would never forgive himself if something bad had happened to her. 

Leroy's phone buzzed and his heart rate sped up when he saw her name on his lock screen. Finally! She texted him back!

Leroy’s mood tanked as quick as it rose and he almost threw the phone across the room. Fuck! She doesn't want to see me at all but at least she is letting me visit my kids.  Maybe.  Leroy sat up, took a deep breath and started typing...

She didn't respond right away. Maybe...please baby, he thought as he waited for her response, say okay, say okay. The phone buzzed... 

This time he did throw his phone - on the couch. Shit, Damn, Fuck! He reached over and picked it up but didn't respond right away. He had to think before he said something he couldn't take back. She had avoided him for more than a week. Isn't that enough time? he thought, Maybe Newt came by and she hates me now. The phone buzzed bringing him out of his thoughts. 

Shit, Damn, Fuck! he said to himself before replying. Baby steps I guess.

When he saw her reply he relaxed for the first time since he went to pick her up at Shea's. Kate admitted she still loved him...he would take that but he couldn't help but push for more.

Leroy leaned back on the couch not feeling much better. Kate did say I love you. That would have to get him through. Any reconciliation had to be on her terms. He wouldn't force his way into her apartment to see her. Anyway, she would have said if Newt came by. Wouldn't she?

He let out a breath. For now, he needed to shower and get cleaned up. He had missed the kids but it was going to be hard to be in that apartment and not see Kate.  

* * * * * * * * * * *

Kaitlin felt guilty. Leroy had called and texted her everyday for more than a week begging for her to let him come by, but she couldn't deal with him right now. Every nerve ending felt on fire at his betrayal. 
Dakota was asking for Daddy Roy. Maddy too and she was sure Hailey was feeling his absence as well. Ben had been unusually mopey and must have noticed things weren't right. He asked in a roundabout way where Leroy was. She figured he missed Leroy but didn’t want to admit it.

Kaitlin knew she couldn't keep Leroy from his children so she had finally texted and said he come over to see the kids. But she couldn't see him. Even though she missed him terribly, she just wasn't sure how to forgive him or if she could forgive him, if she could ever let herself trust him again even though she desperately wanted to. This pain was so different than the pain she felt when she was with Newt. She expected what he dished out. 

She let herself believe Leroy loved her and would never do anything to hurt her. But he did. Her heart was shattered into a million pieces but she knew full well if she saw him she would fall right back into the comfort of his arms. But she couldn't let herself get hurt like this again. That scared her more than anything. She was confused and had no idea how to move forward in their relationship. 

Dr. Shea would probably be able to help, but she couldn't face her either.  She was too everything. Too pretty, too smart, too successful, too nice, too perfect and she and Leroy were too close. Kaitlin felt insignificant and stupid around her and hated herself for it. 

Finally, after 15 minutes of back and forth texting and Leroy begging to see her, he had given up and settled on just seeing the kids. She was glad she texted. If she had heard his voice she would have given in. She almost did when she typed that she loved him. She did love Leroy. That's why all of this hurt. She breathed a sigh of relief when he had finally agreed to her terms. 

It had taken all of Kaitlin's will to stay away knowing Leroy was at her apartment with the kids. She had lied to everyone telling them she had some missed appointments to make up for when in reality, she went to the diner after work and stayed there until just after 8:30 - alone. 

Kaitlin ordered a drink to pass the time. While she sat in the lounge area sipping her drink, she had time to think a bit more clearly. Then it suddenly hit her that she was doing exactly the same thing to Reese that she was furious with Leroy and Shea for doing to her; keeping secrets from him in an effort to protect him. 

When Reese had picked her up from Dr. Shea's, on the drive home he asked her what was going on. She just told him she and Leroy had a disagreement and left it at that. Reese’s 18th birthday is next month and he will be graduating from high school a couple of months later. He and Brooke plan to get married as soon as they graduate. If he is mature enough to handle two kids, a job and a wife, then he should be able to handle the truth. 

She decided right then that tomorrow morning she would tell Reese that his father is in town and that Reid is his Uncle. He deserved the truth as much as she did. Reese should be prepared, thought Kaitlin, Not surprised like I was. It is a very real possibility that Newt already knows exactly where we are. I need to be prepared too but I'm not. Maybe together Reese and I can come up with a plan to deal with him when he does show his face. 

Go to Chapter 48 - Part 2

Another A/N:  Did you notice one of the headlights is out in the Big Lemon? 😮 I thought it was so awesome. I have played TS3 since it came out and never ever noticed this! Sorry - it's the little things.