The boys and Jon were hiding out in the den with soda, popcorn and movies, while the girls were going through boxes and the truck. They had set up three separate areas in the alleyway, one section to sell, one to donate and one to keep. Lexie had brought out a cooler with water, juice and soda’s for the girls.
Stephanie had called a lot of her high school friends, she had even invited Sarah, but she was informed that she could not come because of the lawsuit.
Lexie came out with several pizza’s, checked the cooler, then looked at some of the things they had put in the donate pile. Picking up the books she shook each one of them out. Slips of paper, receipts and other things fell out.
“Girls, shake out the books before you put them in either of in the piles. I just came across some money used as bookmarks.” She held up to folded dollar bills up. One of the things she didn’t show them were the packs of rolling papers she also found. “Oh yeah, check all purses, wallets and pants pockets too.” She headed for the door.
“You got a smart mom.” Missy, one of Stephanie school friends.
“Yeah I do.” Stephanie said just as Lexie went in the door.
She paused for a couple of seconds, but continued on into the townhouse.
The ride to Seaforth was shorter than Stephanie expected. The boys stayed home with rules not to leave the townhouse. They had left through the alleyway, the driver never questioned the pickup location.
“It doesn’t look like a rehab.” Stephanie said as the pulled up to the facility.
“What did you think it would like like Steph” Lexie asked her.
“A hospital maybe, this just looks like a big house.” Stephanie sat back on the seat by Lexie.
The driver had dropped them off at the door, with no reporters in sight. By leaving through the alleyway they managed to avoid the media outside the townhouse.
They were seated in an office by a young lady, who was all but drooling over Jon. Nothing about the place reminded Jon of a rehab, like the last place he had visited Richie in. That place smelled like a last ditch effort to get sober.
They did the walk through and were soon on the road back. The place wasn’t as bad as Stephanie thought it was going to be. Besides counseling, she had to go through drug testing, classes, and then usual twelve step program. “Thirteen weeks should go by quick” she thought when she looked at the schedule in the packet that they were given. Between lectures, classes and studying to finish her classes at Hamilton, she had very little down time.
They were halfway home when Jon’s cell phone went off. Looking at the caller ID he rolled his eyes.
“Let me guess, it’s Dorothea?” Lexie asked as she leaned over and looking at his caller ID to make sure. “You better answer it, she’ll only call over and over till you give in.”
“Alright Dotty what do you want?” Jon asked with a sigh.
“I just got to Seaforth and they said you had already left. We were supposed to meet the director and the staff together.” Dorothea said in an acid tone.
“No we weren’t, your lawyer should’ve told you, and that until the hearing on custody, you signed you have no rights as a parent, and you sold them.” Jon informed his ex. He was really getting tired of telling her this, over and over again.
“I would never have signed away my kids.” Dorothea whined.
“But you did Dotty for five and a quarter of a million dollars.” Jon finally said what he had paid Dorothea when she signed the papers. Jon saw the shock on Stephanie face. That sick feeling came back to his stomach. He hung up and tossed the phone on the seat beside Stephanie.
“So that’s how much we were worth to her?” Stephanie asked her dad.
“You and your brothers weren’t supposed to know that.” Jon told her. “It was the second payment I made to her.”
Lexie knew this was a long time in coming, her presence wasn’t needed for this discussion, why weren’t they home yet.
“Jon, can this wait till we get home?” Lexie asked him, looking between father and daughter.
“Lexie do you know anything about this?” Stephanie asked Lexie.
“No, I don’t know a thing about this.” Lexie reassured Stephanie.
“She doesn’t know anything about this. Martin and I took care of all this.” Jon told Stephanie.
“But this concerns the boys too, you and Martin have been taking care of this and they’re the most important part of this” She searched for the right word. “Lawsuit.” Mess would have been a better word but she didn’t want to upset Stephanie.
Jon looked between the two ladies in the car and knew what was coming.
“I think this should be taken care of in a family meeting.” Lexie told them.
“I agree daddy, this should be a family meeting.” Stephanie nodded in agreement with Lexie.
“And they need to be told from the start.” Lexie said.
“From the start?” Jon asked looking between the two.
“The start.” Lexie nodded along with Stephanie.
They all sat around the table looking at Jon, waiting on him to let them know what was going on.
“Well, your all going to have to know before the hearing anyway.” Jon got up and walked around the table to stand behind Lexie. “It all started when Jesse got arrested. When we, Martin and I got back from the juvenile detention, there was a letter from Grahams parents blackmailing me for a quarter of a million not to take this to the press. I knew it wasn’t from Grahams parents it was from your mom.”
“So that is how you all came to live with me. Yes I paid only if she gave me full custody.” Jon told them.
“Then there was more money paid for Lexie to be our mom?” Stephanie asked him.
“Yes, Graham lost his job and they were going to lose the house and so for five million dollars and more, she signed the papers.” Jon started to walk back to his seat at the table.
“So she was under duress, when she signed the papers.” Jesse said.
“When I found out she was offering to sign her parental rights, I offered the money, not beforehand.” Jon told the kids. “I offered, she took.”
Jesse looked over at Stephanie, whose eyes were shocked. She looked at her father and then down to Lexie.
“So she took the money after you found out they were in trouble?” Stephanie asked, when her father nodded she then turned to Lexie. “Why is she going after you? You’re the one who made visiting mom and Graham’s okay, you even took the boys over when they wanted to visit.”
“I think it was after the overdose, when the police called the house and I went up there and I didn’t call her to let her know.” Lexie reached out her hand to Stephanie. “Your uncle Tony heard her threatening to get your four back, so she’s going after the both of us.”
“I hate that, why is she doing this?” Stephanie shook her head.
“To hurt dad and mamma Lexie.” Jesse said.
“We don’t want daddy and mamma Lexie hurt.” Jakey and Romeo said together.
“Don’t worry, we are prepared to deal with this. Stephanie and Jesse are old enough to decide who they want to live with, but the two of you, they may ask you who you want to live with.” Jon told his younger two.
Jake looked over at Romeo, then back at their dad.
“We want to live with you and Mamma Lexie.” Jake told his father, Romeo nodded in agreement.
“I’m glad Romey, you too Jakey.” Lexie told the boys. She looked down the table at Jon and smiled.
“Okay, let’s go get some food and then it’s homework time.” That got Lexie a lot of groans. It was a short walk to Whole Foods. This was what a family does, Lexie thought, listening to the banter between father and kids, damn Dorothea, for trying to separate him from his kids.