Lexie hated family court. It didn’t matter what city or what state, they all were the same: the crying children, women and men having heated discussions with their lawyers. This just multiplied her hatred for Dorothea tenfold. These kids didn’t deserve to be a part of this. Pulling the boys out of school and having Stephanie on a day pass from Seaforth, just added to her hatred.
Stephanie looked at the other families there in the waiting room and sighed. She noticed a girl about her age, when she turned, she was stunned to see she was about seven to eight months pregnant. The girl had to be around seventeen years old, and already pregnant, that could’ve been me. And the way the girl kept rubbing her nose and sniffing, were sure sign of drug use, most likely coke. There was a girl at Seaforth that was going through drug rehab, but she wasn’t her roommate, but in the room next to her. She knew the sounds and that girl showed all the signs.
Jon and Lexie went into the court room with Martin, he had told the kids that they would be brought in if needed. They had just walked in when Stephanie huffed.
“I want to tell that judge a thing or two.” Stephanie told her brothers.
“I do too, I don’t want to go back to mom and Grahams. Why is she doing this to us?” Jesse tossed the magazine he was reading back on the table.
“Money maybe?” Stephanie said, as her little brothers nodded.
“They won’t make us go back to live with mom and Graham will they?” Jake asked looking scared.
“Me too, I won’t go stay there either.” Romeo said, “I love mamma Lexie.”
“We all do.” Jesse said looking for conformation from Stephanie.
“I didn’t at first. But the longer we were together, being her coach when daddy was gone, working with her at conventions made me change my mind. I wanted no one else but Lexie when I was in the Hospital. So yeah, I love her too.”
The doors to the court room opened and a bailiff came out and asked for Stephanie Rose Bongiovi to step into the court room. Stephanie got up and looked back at her brothers. Jesse gave her the thumbs up, and the younger boys nodded. She walked into the room and looked around. It was no bigger than the class room at Seaforth.
Martin came up and walked her to where she was to stand and face the judge. Her dad and Lexie were on one side of the room, Graham, Dorothea and their lawyer were on the other side.
The bailiff swore her in and then the judge started to ask her questions.
“Miss Bongiovi, do you know why we are here in Family Court?” The judge asked,
“My mother, who gave us up so that Mamma Lexie could adopt us and we could all be one family, you know not his kids and their kids. Now she wants to take us back. It started when I was in the hospital after a drug overdose at College, I ah was a student, and I am now in rehab at Seaforth in the Hamptons. The police and the hospital got my cell phone and called the house, Mamma Lexie and Daddy’s house, as they are my emergency contacts.”
The judge had been writhing notes as she talked.
“Miss Bongiovi, didn’t your parents have joint custody of you and your brothers. What happened that you were living with your father and Stepmother?” Martin asked her,
“Well, when Graham and my mother left for their honeymoon and after they got married, Jesse and Jakey and I were staying with Graham’s parents, while Romey stayed with daddy. He didn’t like Graham’s parents, because they were pushing use kids to call them grandma and grandpa, Romey was afraid of them and cried a lot, so Mother and Graham decided that he could stay with daddy, until they came home from their long Honeymoon, in Hawaii.” Stephanie told the judge, looking over at Martin to see if she should tell them about Jesse getting arrested and ending up in juvie. “While they were gone, I met my new stepsister, she and some of their friends were going out, so I was going to go with then. Grandmother thought I was dressed smutty and I told her she couldn’t tell me how to dress. She drew back her walking cane, like a baseball bat and was going to strike me. My brother Jesse grabbed the cane to save me. Her husband called the police and they claimed Jesse was going to hit her and they arrested him. I called Daddy to come and get me, I didn’t want to live with them, she was going to strike me with her cane, and she hated us, said we were wild and spoiled rich brats. Graham and mother came home early, and we, Jakey and I went to daddy at his hotel. When we woke up, daddy told us we were going home with him.”
Martin told the Judge that was when the first check of a quarter of a million was given to Mr. and Mrs. Adams. The check was the payment sole custody for all four children by Mr. Bongiovi.
“Miss Bongiovi, is there anything else you want to tell us?” The judge asked her.
Stephanie looked over at Her Dad and Lexie and smiled, then turned to the judge.
“My brothers and I had a meeting, after we all talked with Martin, daddy and Mamma Lexie. We decided that we don’t want things to change. We want to stay with Daddy and Lexie, we don’t want to go back to mother and Graham, if that is alright with the court. We love Mamma Lexie and our little sisters and brother. We’re a family us seven kids with daddy and Mamma.” She turned back to see if Lexie noticed she had called her Mamma and not Mamma Lexie. She had.
“Will the bailiff please bring in Jesse James, Jacob Hurley and Romeo Jon please?” The judge asked.
Soon the three boys stood by their sister.
“Do you three agree with your sister about staying with your dad and mother instead of returning to your Mother and Graham?” The judge asked.
“Yes sir, we want to stay with dad and Mamma Lexie.” Jesse told the judge. Jake and Romeo nodded their heads in agreement.
The judge made more notes and looked over the divorce decree and the change in custody document along with the five million dollar payment for giving up her rights as a parent. He let the bailiff take the four children back in the waiting room. Then he looked at the new lawsuit.
“Mr. Smith, can you explain why this new suite has brought against Mr. and Mrs. Bongiovi for this amount.” The judge asked Dorothea’s lawyer.
“Since they have joint accounts, we brought the in the duress lawsuit against both of them” Mr. Smith said.
“Excuse me Judge, Mr. and Mrs. Bongiovi do not have joint accounts. Actually they have separate accounts, it was part of their prenup agreement. The only accounts they jointly have are a household account which they both put funds into, and one for the three youngest children Maddison, Olivia and Cullen college funds. And since the legal adoption the older children, Stephanie, Jesse, Jake and Romeo by Mrs. Bongiovi, a joint college fund was also set up for them.” Martin told the Judge.
“Because this new information has been brought forward, I will have to look further into the merits of this lawsuit. I will dismiss this hearing at this time and both parties will be informed of my decision on this matter. Thank you for coming in and you should hear from me in the next few weeks. Court adjourned.” The judge banged the mallet and got up and took the big file with him.
Martin went over to Jon and Lexie and talked to them, as Dorothea and Graham left with their lawyer.
Soon they were all headed back to Seaforth to drop off Stephanie. After stopping for lunch, they pulled into Seaforth.
“Can you walk me in Mom, a parent needs to sign me back in.” Stephanie asked Lexie.
“Sure Steph, I’ll be happy to go sign you back in.” Lexie got out of the car and walked with Stephanie from the parking lot.
“I meant what I said in that courtroom to the judge. I want you to be my mom.” Stephanie told her as they got to the office.
Lexie stopped at the door with her hand on the doorknob. She was shocked how things had changed since that night she drove to the hospital to be with Stephanie. Looking at her daughter she smiled.
“I need to tell you something Steph, I’ll walk you to your room.” Lexie told Stephanie, it was time to tell her somethings about her life.
They checked Stephanie in and went up to her room. She had fifteen minutes to get to the twelve step meeting, so Lexie knew she didn’t have long. Walking into the room they sat on Stephanie’s bed.
“Today was hard for you and the boys,” Stephanie started to answer but stopped at the look on Lexie’s face. “I know, I spent some time in family court.”
“I never asked you about your family, I know, no one came to the wedding. All you had was your editor, which I thought he wasn’t coming, and a few of your friends.”
“My mom and dad died when I was a little girl, I hardly remember them. My first time in Family Court was when my grandparents argued who I would go live with. It got nasty, I went with one family only to be back when they couldn’t handle me.”
“Does daddy know?” Stephanie asked her.
“Nope, he knows I was in foster care, but not the Family Court stuff. Granted when I started writing, I used it to help a lot of other kids going through the system.” Lexie explained. “This is just between you and me.” She reached over and placed her hand on top of her folded hands and gave them a light squeeze.
“I won’t tell daddy.” Stephanie said softly.
“I better get back out there. We’ll come up on Sunday for a family visit. If you need anything, just call us and we’ll bring it up.” Lexie said as she got off the bed and started for the door. “I love you Steph, always know that.” Lexie told her when they hugged goodbye.
“Thanks mom, I love you too.” Stephanie said softly as they hugged.
Lexie held back the tears, as she walked out to the car. Jon reached over and put his hand on her folded hands and looked into her eyes.
“Okay?” He asked softly.
She nodded her head, afraid she would dissolved into ugly tears.
Putting his arm around her shoulders he pulled her close for the rest of the ride home.
That night as they snuggled close Lexie finally let her tears come out that she had held in all day. It was hard telling Jon all the facts of her life that she had hid from him.
“I pushed it to the back of my mind, I didn’t let it ruin my life.” Lexie rested her cheek on his chest.
“I always thought you were a strong woman, I now know why.” He said as he kissed the top of her head.
It was over a two weeks later when Martin got the call and the letter with the judge’s decision. They wanted to all be there when it was opened, but Stephanie was not going to be able to come home yet, so after school they all piled into two cars and headed to Seaforth. Martin was riding with the family for the opening of the letter.
‘What if it’s not good?’ Stephanie texted Jesse.
‘What if its good news and we can be one big family?’ Jesse texted back
‘They won’t split us up will they?’ Stephanie texted back.
‘Let’s not think of that think about that. We’re almost there.’ Jesse told his sister.
‘Okay, I have to go to class, they’ll come and get me when you guys get here.’ Stephanie signed off and went to class.
They pulled in and parked at the school, it took them a while to unload. Getting the Trio in the stroller was a job in itself. The facility gave them one of the offices to have their meeting. They waited for Stephanie to get out of her class. Three seven month old toddlers, locked in a stroller got antsy, even sippy cups and cheerios stopped pacifying the restless Trio. Lexie and Sally took them for a walk and found that a trip around the yard helped soothed them to sleep. Coming back to the room, they met Stephanie at the door.
“Shhhh we just got them to sleep.” Lexie took a hug from Stephanie.
“I have an upset stomach, I’m so worried I don’t think I slept much and I skipped lunch.” Stephanie told her as they went into the office.
Martin got right to work. He read it first to himself, then looked up and look at each family member.
“Let’s start with the charge of under duress the court cannot see just cause. After looking at financial records, the alimony payments and work status of Mr. Adams should be enough for a family of four to live on comfortably. I am dismissing the claim against Alexis Bongiovi and John Francis Bongiovi. Looking over payments to Mr. and Mrs. Adams, it is my decision that as Mr. Bongiovi has not submitted a claim of repayment of five million dollars.” Martin took a breath and looked at Jon, who nodded his head in agreement. “That the money not be repaid.”
Lexie, who had been holding on for dear life to Jon’s hand in case the decision did not go as planned, gave it a tight squeeze.
“What does it say about us, you know me and my brothers?” Stephanie asked, sitting on the edge of her seat by Jake.
“It’s in here, there’s just a little more about money.” Martin smiled at Stephanie. “On the continuation of Alimony, it is Mr. Bongiovi’s decision to continue to play, with the guarantee that Dorothea Adams, finds gainful employment within one year, if none is found, Alimony will be cut in half.”
Lexie looked at Jon.
“Isn’t that kind of harsh?” Lexie asked Jon.
“Hey that was the Judges suggestion, to make her less dependent on my money to survive. I would have kept it the same, she did raise these kids while I was out on the road.” Jon told Lexie.
“Actually Mr. Jon, it was my suggestion after our talk about continuing the alimony. The Judge also suggested it, if we hadn’t put it in the counter suit.” Martin reminded Jon.
Jesse cleared his throat to get attention.
“About said children, my sisters about to be sick and Romeo is scared.” Jesse informed the adults in the room.
Martin read over it to himself first them looked at the children.
“On the claim of resending full guardianship of the children, it is my judgement that Stephanie Rose, Jesse James Louis, Jacob Hurley and Romeo Jon, remain in the full custody of Alexis and John Frances Bongiovi Junior. Visitation rights to Dorothy Adams will be supervised for a set period of time with a child advocate present at all times and must be held in a public place.” Martin looked up in the faces of the children waiting as it sunk in that Lexie will now be and forever, in the eyes of the court, be their mother.
“It’s over.” Stephanie whispered.
“It’s over.” Jon said throwing his arms around a crying Lexie.
“They’re mine.” She cried over and over.
All four kids ran and hugged their mom and dad, they were now and will forever be a family of not his and hers but theirs.