Heart Strings

Chapter Thirty-Three

On Thursday the day before the hearing, Liam spoke with the psychologist Dr. Lavalier for one last interview before his final report.

"Liam, has your attitude towards Erica Turner changed at all since your last visit with her?"

"No ma'am, you were there, she made off at me Da and chewed me ears off about him corruptin' me and turnin' me against her. I'm always buggered up after seein' her and it takes a long time before I can sleep proper or concentrate on me schoolwork. I really don't want anything ta do with her, she's a feckin' raver," Liam explained.

"You may be asked to talk with the judge in chambers, just be yourself and answer his questions honestly. I've already filed one report prior to your last visit and I recommended then that the court vacate the order for visitation. I will strongly recommend that action and citing the last visit, the court should act in your favor. Do you mind if I call your father in so we can discuss this with him also?"

"I'll go get him," Liam declared.

The psychologist explained her report and the hearing to Connor and wished them both the best.

"I really hope this will be the end of it, Liam's accent comes back strong when he's stressed and he'll be unintelligible if he has to see Erica again. Not to mention the nightmares and other things. I can't have him suffering like that. My fiancé has been a good example of what a mother should be and he just can't reconcile Erica with that word," Connor stated.

"So that's not his normal manner of speech; I've only heard him speak when stressed by the visits and that regression is a sign that he's suffering a traumatic episode every time he encounters Erica."

The doctor had always been careful not to refer to Erica as Liam's mother. She knew that in Liam's mind he had no mother, just a woman who abandoned him.

"I don't usually give advice like this but I would suggest that your attorney file for a restraining order during the hearing. He'll know what's needed so Liam is protected at home, school and in public. More than that I can't say, but I suggest your fiancé attend the hearing tomorrow. It might trigger Erica to show her volatile personality," the doctor suggested.

"Thanks Doc, I'll call my attorney right away and I think I see where you're going with this and I appreciate it," Connor replied.

"Good luck tomorrow gentlemen, I think it's leaning your way.”

Liam and Connor greeted Terri in the waiting room. On the way home, Terri drove as Connor spoke with his attorney.

"I'm on it Connor, if the judge grants our motion the restraining order will be a good idea. She's already under an order not to see him outside of supervised visits and as volatile as the doc seems to think she is… yeah it's a good call. So what's this about your fiancé being at the hearing?"

"The doc thinks it will set her off and the judge can see for himself what a complete ratter she is," Connor explained.

"Okay then, I'll seat us accordingly and do our best to wind her up," Ben Archivedes agreed.

"Okay then Ben, we'll see you tomorrow afternoon."

"Driver, McAuliffe Jr. high school please and let's not go through the park this time."

"Watch it wise ass, I know your weak spots," Terri chuckled.

As they waited for Danny to appear, Liam suggested that he hold Terri's hand and make sure Erica sees it, and I'll switch to the side away from her. "I hate to do it but I can't take any more of these visits."

Danny bounced up to the Landcruiser and hopped in. "So what did the doctor say?"

"She thinks we stand a pretty good chance but nothing is certain until it's over," Liam cautioned.

Friday Liam left the school at the lunch break. Cheri, Amber, Danny and several others wished him good luck. Danny snagged Liam's jacket and pulled him to a small alcove and kissed him for good luck.

"I love you Liam," Danny said urgently.

"I love you too Danny, I'll text you as soon as I know."

"Hi Mam, hi Da, hi Shan, I'm ready ta go."

Maeve pulled him in for a kiss and Liam buckled in.

They met Ben the attorney at the family court center and he pulled them off to the side.

"The judge will already be in the court room and there are no spectators. We will be seated on the right side table in front of the bench.

"The psychologist may be called to explain her report so be ready for that. Don't speak unless the judge calls you by name and asks a direct question, is that clear enough?

"As I told you yesterday, the judge may wish to see you in chambers; the court reporter will be in the room but these transcripts are completely confidential. Any questions?" Ben asked finally.

There were none so they waited for the clerk to call them into the courtroom. Erica and her attorney arrived and it looked like they had to rush to get there. Erica looked angry and glared at Connor; Liam sat to the right of Terri who was in turn on Connor's right side. Maeve glared straight back at her former daughter in-law and Erica looked quite shocked to see her as she shifted her gaze back to her attorney.

The clerk called the case after several people filed out and Erica was through the door first, leaving her attorney still sitting on the bench.

Connor turned and smiled at Terri, Liam and his own mother. They rose and were ushered in by Ben. Erica was still standing and watched them coming down the aisle. Connor and Ben followed right behind them and Liam shifted sides and clung to Terri's right arm. Connor looked up to see the judge who was watching the procession.

There was a bailiff but he didn't call out “All rise.” He just read the case number and names of the parties and the judge took it from there.

"Good afternoon, I will be ruling on a motion to end visitation in this case. Mr. Burroughs do you have any motions you wish to enter on behalf of your client?”

"No your honor, we do not at this time," Erica's attorney responded.

That seemed to irritate Erica even more.

“I have read the psychologist's report and I would like to speak with young Liam and Dr. Lavalier in chambers. Please remain seated as court is still in session. Dr. Lavalier would you accompany us?”

The doctor rose from a seat in the rear of the small courtroom and followed the court reporter through the door behind the judge’s bench.

"Aren't you going to do something about this Brad?” Erica growled loudly and angrily at her attorney.

"Please sit down Erica, this won't help your case," the attorney instructed.

The judge turned and scowled at her but said nothing.

After a fifteen minute wait, the judge, Liam and the doctor filed through the back door of the courtroom. The court reporter came through behind them with his machine.

The judge made a few notes on some papers and signed them. He summoned the clerk who stamped them and handed them back.

Liam was very anxious; the judge had been quite pleasant in chambers and asked a few questions about Liam's encounters with Erica. Liam answered honestly and then the judge asked the doctor if she was certain about the conclusions in her report.

The judge addressed the courtroom. "In the case of Erica Turner vs. Connor Dennehy in the matter of custody of the minor child Liam Dennehy, I have ruled that the visitation order is vacated and no further visits will take place. I am also granting restraining orders against Erica Turner and her spouse, Skiva Turner Orgood, that they will not approach Liam or his family at home, school or in public places. A five hundred foot distance order is attached. Violations of these orders may result in incarceration for up to one hundred and eighty days. Is that clear?"

"It is your honor; I will explain the orders to my client."

"What! That's it, don't I get to say anything?” Erica screamed at the judge.

"Contain yourself, Ma'am or I will have the bailiff take you into custody."

"Oh great, meanwhile that blonde bitch gets my son?! What the fuck is that about, what did Connor pay that bitch doctor to change her report?!"

"Bailiff, take Ms. Turner into custody, I will see her after my calendar is completed to discuss her contempt citation."

Maeve leaned forward and smiled sweetly at Erica.

"The rest of you are free to go, have a nice day," the judge said cheerfully.

And with that, they were out the door. Liam turned on his phone and texted Danny the news. Danny sent back a fireworks Gif with flags waving and rockets going off.

"Let him know we're on our way and we'll be there when he gets out," Connor requested.

Liam sent the message and Danny replied with thumbs up.

Dr. Lavalier walked up and congratulated Liam and his family on the verdict.

"I'm sure you'll be feeling much better very soon.”

"Thank you Doctor Lavalier, but do you think she'll try again?" Liam asked.

"That's unlikely, her outburst will be part of the record and the judge considering any future case would be required to review it and my report. I wish you good luck in your future life," the doctor encouraged.

A woman waited for the elevator with Erica's attorney, it was Skiva. She hadn't been in the courtroom.

"Hello Connor, hi Liam, I'm sorry Erica put you through all this. I tried to discourage her from taking this any further but she was not inclined to listen. I'll do my best to keep her from bothering you anymore. I hope you can have a happy life from here on."

She stepped into the elevator and was gone.

The group walked through the lobby and out to the parking lot.

Danny was animated when he approached the car; he climbed in and off they went. Liam had already informed his interested friends of the results of the hearing and received several replies of congratulations.

"Where shall we eat this evening?" Connor asked the group.

"How about Churrascaria the Brazilian barbecue place over in Upland?" Liam suggested.

"I've heard of that place, it sounds good to me," Terri put in.

Danny nodded enthusiastically and off they went.

On the ride to the restaurant Liam checked his email; he had one from Shane but it had pictures attached and he thought it would be better to wait until he and Danny could read the message in private. Another from Pearce informed him that he and Shane had already had a sleepover and that he loved Payton Academy. Liam handed Danny his phone so he could read Pearce's message.

The food was wonderful and the servers were relentless, carving off slices of different meats until they'd had enough and turned the baton on its side which signaled they were full. During the meal, Maeve entertained Terri with stories of both Connor and Liam's childhood.

At the end of the meal the family was so stuffed they could hardly move. The boys declined dessert.

At last, they were home and dry, and they all opted for sweats or shorts. Terri opted for sweats with a tank top and no bra. Liam noted that it didn't look like she needed one. Maeve retired for the evening since by her watch it was well after midnight Dublin time. The boys and Connor wore shorts and tees. Liam and Danny went to their room and Liam opened the email from Shane on his computer and called Danny over to read it with him.

:Dear Liam and Danny, I hope everything went okay with your court thing and you don't have to do those visits anymore. Pearce is at Payton now and everybody likes him. We had a sleepover at my house and his brother stayed with Doug, they're about the same age and Gabriel really seemed to get along with Doug. Jabs plays the violin so they have music in common and they're both pretty serious about it. I will record Doug playing that piece you gave him; he's really learned the crap out of it.

I attached a few scans of the drawings I made from your pics. I hope you like them but please be honest if I didn't get them right.

Mom and Dad send their love and of course, Doug and I will love you guys forever. You are officially our brothers in California.

Stay cool and let me know how you're doing. If you have time, Doug would love an email to him direct; his is dougdoodle@ same as mine.

Hugz, Shane :

Liam opened the attached files and was shocked by the intricately rendered drawing of his nude form on the screen. He opened the one titled Danny and it was every bit as detailed and as beautifully drawn as Liam's. The third file was Liam and Danny together arms over each other's shoulders.

"That's beautiful!" Danny uttered.

"It is indeed," Liam agreed.

"Eh… don't yas think he drew me dick a bit large?" Liam queried.

"Nope, you're just not used to seeing it at that angle, you must not check yourself out in the mirror like I do."

"No, I suppose not, I figure you'd let me know if somethin' wasn't right," Liam laughed.

"Can you print these?" Danny asked.

"I can go as large as 11x17 here but there's a printer at the company that goes 32x28," Liam supplied.

"Well let's start with the ones you can do here," Danny grinned.

"I'm sure Mam would print large ones if we asked. She found Shane's red sketchbook and looked through it. It didn't bother her a bit. She asked if Shane had drawn us and I told her there hadn't been time but Shane took snaps to draw from."

"What did she say about Shane's drawings?" Danny inquired.

"She said they were wonderful and that Shane was a gifted artist. I believe Mam is more laid back than you think."

"You don't say 'yer mam' anymore just Mam, that's so cool."

"Do you enjoy calling Da by Da instead of Connor?" Liam asked.

"Yeah, I do. It's really grand," Danny giggled.

“Keep it up and you'll be talkin' like a proper Sullivan at least until you're a Dennehy.”

Downstairs Terri mentioned to Connor that Sarah Hanlan almost seemed disappointed when they told her they were engaged.

"I fancy she wanted to do the introducin' but our lads saw to that," Connor speculated.

"I suppose you're right. All the same, Mike and Sarah seemed happy enough with the news," Terri agreed.

Connor lit the gas log and dimmed the lights; he sat with Terri in the dim flickering light and savored the day.