Chapter 9

Kevin woke to the phone ringing.  Groggily he answered, “’ello.”

“Is this Mr. Kevin Richardson?”

A groan escaped from him, there is no freaking way they found us that fast.  “Why who is this?”

“This is Chase Jackson, you left a message on my machine last night.”

Swinging his legs from the bed, he placed his elbows on his knees.  He was trying to wake up and make sense at the same time.  “Oh yeah the attorney, I need an attorney here in town to do something for me.  Can you do it?”

“Well I could answer that if I knew what you wanted,” came through the receiver.

“Well I don’t want to discuss this on the phone, can I meet you at your office?”  Kevin pinched the sleep from his eyes.

“No problem you have my address and I do require a retainer.”

“Okay give me about an hour and half to get there.  Is that okay?”

“Works for me, see you then.”

Kevin set the phone back in the cradle.  Falling back on the bed, he closed his eyes, trying to clear his mind.  He felt bad about it but if the little girl was his he wanted to be in her life.  Sighing deeply he shuffled off to shower and get dressed, he had to get the guys moving too.

Picking up his pace, he went from room to room and roused them out of bed saying they had to go.  He knew he should have done this by himself but he felt that he might need them for support.  The more he thought about it the more afraid he became.  Little questions kept popping up his mind.  “What did Cass tell her about me?  Maybe she won’t even like me?”

A.J. drove them to the address in the phone book.  The five of them walked into a very countrified office.  Now he wasn’t so sure he had called the right person.  The place was simple not slick.  A man was on the phone and he waived them in.  They passed by an empty desk.

All five of them walked into the office.  Kevin took a seat and A.J. took the only other available seat.  The remainder of the them lined up on the wall behind them.  The gentleman ended his call and then spoke.  “So what can I do for you Mr. Richardson?” 

“I have a custody case I need to pursue,” Kevin paused to see if the Mr. Jackson had recognized him or his friends.

“Paternity suit is what he means,” A.J. sat in the chair with one leg crossed over the other.

Kevin glanced at him without moving his head; it was a silent communication that they had developed over the years.  They were here but Kevin didn’t want them to interfere, especially A.J.

Chase Jackson rocked back in his leather chair.  Placing his hands behind his head, he interlaced his fingers.  “If you are going to pursue this paternity test with Cassandra Collins, you had better be damn sure.”

Kevin’s mouth opened slowly and then he stood up, turning his back, he was ready to leave.

“Hold on Mr. Richardson, I’m running on assumption that’s all.  There are maybe five kids in this town that fit in that category.  Of the five, two have red hair and one is blonde.  That leaves two, the last one being born last summer.”

Kevin turned, “Listen if you’re one of Cass’s friends or something I can go to someone else.”

“Sit down, Kevin.  May I call you Kevin?”  Chase offered a hand from behind his desk.

Kevin nodded and sat back down, waiting for an explanation.

“This is a very small town, I think you know that.  Cass is the only woman I know who doesn’t accuse a single soul of being Annie’s father.  As far as the rest are concerned people pretty much point fingers at each other.”

Kevin smiled hearing the name, temporarily forgetting that this man did know Cass.  “Her name is Annie, cool my mom’s name is Anne.”

Chase’s face broke out in a big grin, “Well it’s Annie after Annie Oakley, not your mom.”

Kevin’s smile disappeared, “Oh… How do you know?”

Chase laughed again, “Cass and I have mutual friends that have been trying to hook us up for years.  Don’t take it personal and I don’t have a personal or moral conflict with this either.”

Kevin became circumspect, not sure what to say or do.

“Did you ever sleep with her?”  A.J. asked.

“Alex!”  Kevin was humiliated. 

A.J. sat in the chair casually picking at his thumbnail, “Well if he got scruples and he is going to fight for you then he should have the right answer.”

Chase considered the question.  It seemed very off the wall but he knew why the question was asked.  “No,” he shrugged.

A.J. smiled, “You’ll do.”

Kevin didn’t quite gather what had taken place and wasn’t really sure if he wanted it too.  A.J. managed to hire this man as his attorney and it didn’t feel right or make sense.

Grabbing a legal pad chase sat at the desk,  “Let’s hear it.”

“Hear what?”  Kevin was befuddled.

Chase closed his eyes and then looked at Kevin, “How this happened.  I have to know, I can’t fight for you if I don’t know.”

The beginnings of a smiled tipped A.J.’s mouth, he was finally going to hear it all.

“Guys can you wait outside, please.”  Brian, Howie, and Nick receded to the outer office.  A.J. didn’t budge from the chair.  “You too,” Kevin pointed a finger at him.

Groaning A.J. shuffled out of the office.

“Are you ready now?”  Chase sat waiting.

“Yeah,” Kevin began his story.

The fellas sat in the outer office waiting and waiting like a bunch of mother hens.  Finally when the door opened, Kevin was grinning from ear to ear.  

“Went well?” Brian asked.

“Yep, come on we have to grab some lunch and then we have another appointment after that.”

“We do?”  Nick looked at him totally confused. 

Kevin shook his head, he was used to the baffled look from Nick but not the others.  “Yes we do,” Kevin’s head bobbed up and down.  “Come on, I’ll explain it later.  This is one small town.”  Heading out the door the rest followed.

“Seems like some of the old Kevin is coming back,” Howie said snidely to Nick.

“Shut up D and get in the van,” Kevin spoke with an easy cadence.

“Yep that would be him,” Nick laughed as he clapped his hands together.

They sat gathered at a table in the back of a small dinner.  The people, in general were friendly but not overly friendly.  They let the guys order their meals in peace.

“Where are we going after this Kev?”  A.J. asked as he picked at his fries.

“It all depends on what happened after we left Mr. Jackson’s office.”  Kevin wiped his mouth his napkin.  “If Cass cooperates I’ll see my daughter, if not we go before a judge…”  Kevin paused as he looked at his watch, “In one hour.”

“Jesus Christ Kevin,” A.J. moaned as he dropped his fork.

“What?”  Kevin poked at the food on the platter.

“Can you be any quicker,” A.J’s top jaw was grinding into his bottom one.

Kevin didn’t say a word.  He had to think about what he was going to say to A.J. without hurting him anymore.  “I have a right too.  It’s her fault.”

“You are a pompous ass.  Just because you didn’t get your kids before, you are hell bent on claiming this one.  It doesn’t matter that Cass wants no part of you, your fame, or your money.  Have you once thought about Annie?”  A.J.’s voice raised an octave with each word.

Kevin inhaled deeply and closed his eyes.  He had thought about that kid so much in the last twenty-four hours it was driving him crazy.  The others sat, stunned at the bitterness in A.J.’s voice.  “Yes Alex, I have.  Look this isn’t about you, it’s about me.”  Kevin stopped speaking.  Slowly he let the comment sink with everyone sitting at the table.

“Do you know what it’s like to feel abandoned and then someone comes out of the clear blue to claim you?”  A.J.’s voice took on a sad tone.

Kevin licked his lips, “A.J. I didn’t a desert her.  I didn’t know.”

Kevin waited for him to reply.  Instead A.J. got up and walked out the door. 

Kevin grabbed money from his pocket he tossed it on the table.  “Stay here, I need to talk to him alone.”

As Kevin followed A.J. to the van, his anger was rising.  A.J. had no right to compare him to his dad or his situation.  “Alex wait up!”  Kevin shouted as he rounded the bumper.

A.J. opened the door and Kevin slammed it shut, “Look dammit, I’m not your old man and don’t ever compare the two again!”

“Same thing,” A.J. squared his shoulders.  “The same damn thing.”

“Bullshit!  It’s not the same!”  Kevin grabbed him by the front of his shirt and slammed him against the van.  “Yeah I fucked up but I’m trying to do the right thing!”

“Only because it suits you,” A.J. said in a voice riddled with purpose.  He had been done being afraid of Kevin years ago.  This entire trip had been tugging on his own emotions.

“That’s not true A.J. and you know it!  I sat in that office when Chase called Cass.  I asked her nicely to please just tell me the truth, that we could work something out.  She won’t have it.  She hates me!  So now I have to go to a judge and tell him my child was conceived on a one night stand.”

A.J. turned his head slightly, reaching into his pocket he pulled out a cigarette and lit it.  “I can’t say as though I blame her Kevin.”

“What is it with you?  What did I do to you?”  Kevin was beyond angry and looking for the brotherly bond that they had always had.

Searching Kevin’s face, A.J. wanted his answers.  “Are you going to take Annie away from Cass?”

Kevin stuffed his hands deep in his pockets.  The wind kicked up slightly and he shivered.  “No, why do you care anyway?”

“I care Kevin, being played as a pawn at any age is no fun.  That kid is all Cass will ever have.”

Kevin shook his head, “No A.J.  I won’t do that, I promise you that.  I just want some time with her.  I don’t even know her.”

“Are you going to take responsibility for her and not hide her from everyone?”

Kevin tossed his shoulders back and looked up at the mountains behind the van.  “Hell yes.”

“That’s all I wanted to hear,” A.J. stamped out his butt.

Both of them simultaneously looked at the diner, “They ain’t comin’ out are they?”

Kevin chuckled, “I think they are waiting to see if we killed each other yet.”

“Let’s go get them, damn those were good fries.”  A.J. laughed as the two of them walked back into the diner.

“I wouldn’t know,” Kevin snickered.

A.J. open the door, “Guess I’ll have to teach that kid what fast food is.”

“No way A.J., no way.”  Kevin shook his head.

A.J. couldn’t help but smile.  If Kevin could get through this he would be a great dad.





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