“What is this about?” I ask.
“There has been more evidence brought forward in the case against you.”
“Am I being arrested?” I question.
“Yes,” he says, and my stomach drops, and I know I’m going to be sick. I look down when I feel Ashlyn’s hand in mine. I really hate that she is here to see this.
“Can you go get Mommy’s phone?” I ask her. She looks up at Officer Dan before nodding and walking into the house.
“Cash isn’t here right now, and I can’t leave until I have someone here to take care of Ashlyn,” I explain, rubbing my hands together.
“That’s understandable, Lilly. We can wait here until you find someone to come watch her. I also called Tom on my way over and told him what’s going on. I suppose he is going to be showing up soon,” he says, looking concerned.
“Can you please not handcuff me in front of my daughter? I really don’t want her to get upset. I promise that I will fully cooperate.” I wrap my arms around my waist.
“We won’t cuff you until it’s absolutely necessary.”
“Thank you,” I whisper.
“Here, Mommy,” Ashlyn says, handing me my phone. I pull up Cash’s number; it rings once before he answers.
“Hey, babe, we just got to the park. What’s up?”
“Officer Dan is here at the house,” I say, hoping he understands that I need him to come home. I really do not want to have a conversation about this with Ashlyn standing right here.
“Why is he there at the house?”
“He needs me to go with him,” I say closing my eyes. “I need you to come get Ashlyn.”
“Okay, baby, everything is going to be all right. I’m on my way home. I’m going to call my dad.”
“Okay,” I reply. I want to cry, but I know I can’t in front of Ashlyn. I really do not want her to get upset.
“Love you, baby, hang in there. I’m on my way now,” he says before hanging up. I pull the phone away from my ear.
“He is on his way.” I take a step back, opening the door more fully. “Would you like to wait inside?”
“Yeah, honey. Why don’t you g—”
“Dan, you know that’s not allowed,” the office behind him says, and Dan turns to look at him.
“Officer Mitchel, I suggest you stand down,” Dan replies, stepping into the house. He doesn’t wait for the other officer to come in before he shuts the door. I walk into the kitchen, looking around at all the groceries that still need to be put away. My eyes land of Ashlyn, who looks worried, and I hate seeing that look on my baby’s face.
“Come here, love bug.” Ashlyn comes to me and I pick her up, wrapping myself around her and breathing in her smell. I hate the idea of being away from her, Jax, or Cash for any length of time. Ashlyn doesn’t fight me; she must know something is going on. After a few minutes, I hear a car outside. I stand in the living room watching the front door. As soon as it opens, my stomach drops. It’s not Cash, but his dad.
“Hey, honey,” he says, and I hold Ashlyn a little tighter. I really don’t want to leave until I’m at least able to see Cash, but I wonder if I will be allowed to wait until he gets here.
“Hi,” I say.
“Grandpa!” Ashlyn says and starts to wiggle, trying to get down, and as much as I don’t want to, I set her down and watch as she runs to James.
“Hey, pretty girl,” he says, swinging her up into his arms. Dan looks at me, and I know he is silently trying to tell me that we need to go.
“I’m sorry, James, but I need to take Lilly with me.”
“I know. Can you wait until my boy gets here?” James asks.
“I really shouldn’t have let her stay as long as I have, but I knew she needed to wait until someone got here to stay with her daughter,” Dan says, looking upset. “I didn’t want to bring the girl with us and get CPS involved.” I feel nauseated by his last words; the thought of Ashlyn being put into the system, even for a short period of time, makes me feel grateful to Dan.
“I understand,” James says. He looks at me, and I can tell he’s worried. I know that Dan said he called James before this, so I wonder if he knows about what’s going on.
“I’m very sorry, Lilly, but we’re going to have to go,” Dan says. I walk over to James and Ashlyn; her head is laying against his chest. I want to pull her away from him, but I just can’t do it. I know that I need to put on a brave face for my girl.
“I’m going with Dan. Can you be a good girl for Daddy until I get back?”
“Why do you have to go?” she asks, and I take a breath before answering.
“He just needs to ask me some questions.” I look at Dan, and he looks at Ashlyn and nods. “Can I get some love before I go?” She looks unsure before leaning away from James so I can grab her. Once I get her in my arms, I whisper into her ear, “Love you, love bug. Be good, okay?” She nods and I feel tears start to fill my eyes. I know I need to leave before she has the chance to see me upset. I hand her back to James, who leans close so he can whisper to me that everything will be okay. I grab my bag off the counter and follow Dan out of the house. Once we’re at his squad car, I’m read my rights and placed in the backseat just as Cash pulls up with Jax. I lower my head. I really don’t want Jax to see me like this. I know that my mascara has started to run down my face, and I try as best as I can to wipe the tears away before Jax can see them. Cash comes to my door and squats down in front of me.
“Baby,” he says, his fingers tilting my face up. “It’s going to be okay. I called the lawyer on the way over here and he said he would meet you there.”
“Okay,” I tell him, trying to be brave. Something in my gut tells me this isn’t going to be so easily fixed.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” I reply, and I can hear Jax begin to shout from off in the distance.
“We need to go,” Officer Mitchel says, standing behind Cash with his hand on the door. I can tell he is becoming impatient.
“Just give me a minute,” Cash growls, standing to his full height. “Dad, let Jax come here for a second,” Cash yells, and I hear the pounding of Jax’s feet on the gravel, then he is there, wrapping his arms around my neck.
“Hey, honey.” I try to smile, but I feel it wobble.
“Why are the police taking you away?” he asks. I pull him away from me so I can see his face.