The date was set. The first date before the judge. Unlike most movies, Tavery was told this kind of court case was to be held in a small room with his lawyer, Becky’s mom’s lawyers and a judge. Tavery’s mom would watch Grace for all of the meetings as it wasn’t going to be the kind of conversation a two-year-old should hear.
Tavery had to continue going to the courthouse to meet with his lawyer. Mr. Grimes was just starting out his practice and leased an office in the courthouse. They met frequently to come up with a plan of action and discuss what kind of agreement he would accept. Tavery wanted only one: full custody. Becky’s mom never cared for his daughter before Becky’s death and he wasn’t sure what had suddenly changed. Either way, he wanted full rights to his daughter. His lawyer explained to him state law and how if the judge found him unsuitable for parenting compared to Becky’s mom, he may actually lose the case. This scared Tavery but he couldn’t imagine any sane person denying him the right to see his daughter. Not even Becky had considered this.
Tavery walked through the courthouse halls until he met up with Mr. Grimes. The two of them then made their way to the small room on the main floor where the proceeding would start. To his despair, Tavery walked into the room and saw Hannah sitting on the other end of the table. Becky’s mom’s side of the table.
He sighed slightly and then took his seat. It was tense and awkward. Hannah took one look at him when he came through the door. Her eyes widened and then she stared at the wooden table in front of her.
Becky’s mom, Anne Sanders, was late but no later than the judge. Anne arrived and pranced her way to a seat next to her own lawyer: Mrs. Charmicheal. Judging by their murmuring, Hannah was Mrs. Charmichael’s paralegal.
When the judge walked in, everyone rose, and then he took a seat at the head of the table to oversee the discussion and determine a solution.
To Tavery, the meeting felt unproductive. Anne’s lawyer presented her case and Tavery’s presented his. Tavery sunk into his chair slightly when the point was made that he didn’t have a job.
The judge, who was a tall man in his late-sixties and shared the same dark skin tone as Tavery, looked at him and squinted. “You’ve got two months to find a job. We’re adjourned until then.”
The sudden abrupt to the meeting made Tavery realize the importance of having employment when caring for a child. Which, of course, he knew more than most as he had been this child’s father for two years and paid for every one of her needs.
They all stood. Anne shot an icy glance at Tavery. He ignored it. He risked looking at Hannah to see if she would acknowledge him. She didn’t.
With his chest sagging in more than one way, he left the room.
“He’s being gracious, Tavery,” Mr. Grimes said.
“I’m optimistic,” he replied.
“No, seriously. He’s not hearing anything else until you get a job. This shows that he doesn’t care for much else. You should be able to win this thing once you find work.”
“Okay, I am optimistic.” The two men laughed and then shook hands.
Tavery wandered onto the sidewalk and toward the coffee shop. He thought perhaps Hannah would be there to discuss the elephant in the courtroom.
And sure enough…
“Tavery,” she whispered harshly from a bench nearby. He approached her. “Let’s take a walk, yeah?”
They began walking toward a patch of greenery only two blocks away.
“Look, Hannah, I–”
“Yeah, I didn’t know either,” she said as she looked up at him and smiled. Her hands were in her jacket pocket again.
“It’s just that I–”
“No, I get it,” Hannah interrupted again. He looked at her with a sarcastic smile that said: “what are you doing?” She read it loud and clear. “I’m sorry, I talk a lot when I’m nervous,” she said as she blushed.
“What are you nervous about, Hannah?”
She liked hearing him say her name. “I know it’s just coffee and correct me if I’m wrong here but… I’ve got a coffee machine at home and I think I should probably use it, you know?”
Tavery looked back up. He could see the small park by then. “Yeah, I know.”
“Thank you for understanding, Tavery,” Hannah said as she stopped walking. “And thanks for not asking why.” She gently brushed his arm with her hand from his bicep to this wrist. But she sternly stopped herself there.
And then she turned and walked away. The next time Tavery would see her was in two months.
Or so he thought.