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“What’s up, baby brother?” Tanner asks when I call him.

“I need you up at the school. I’m trying not to fuck things up, but swear to God, Anna is up here right now, attempting to check out Jace,” I tell him.

“On my way. Call Mom, then have her call the attorney. He’ll know what to do,” Tanner tells me. I’m stuck in a tunnel, memories replaying like a flashback. Jace lying in an incubator as I watch his tiny body shake, unable to hold him because there are IV’s everywhere and he’s got a heart monitor strapped to his chest, and it’s all Anna’s fucking fault.

“Keller! Keller!” Tanner yells through the phone.


“I know it’s hard, but your son and woman are in that building. It’s your whole future. Do this shit by the book. You already know she doesn’t have a leg to stand on, but if you go in half-cocked, it won’t be good.” His words calms me down. The boiling rage is still there, but there’s nothing I’d hate worse than to see her win and Jace hurt.

“You’re right. I’m going to walk in there and request for the Student Resource Officer to put Anna in a waiting room while I make the calls.” This shit is not going to be easy.

“There ya go. I’m only five minutes away. How about I make the calls and you deal with that? Two birds, one stone.”

“Thanks, Tanner. I know I don’t say it enough, but thank you.” I breathe through the anger, calming my attitude down.

“Always got your back, brother,” Tanner replies.

“Gotta go. Looks like the principal is walking towards me now.”

“Alright, later.” We hang up.

“Mr. Hart, a pleasure to see you. Miss. Morrero called my office after I’m assuming she talked to you and let me know about the situation. Mind telling me what’s going on?” I’ve never had to deal with this. The pickup list states plain as day who can pick Jace up. I didn’t think to give the court orders to the school, not that it’s really their business.

“Jace’s biological mother signed over all custodial rights when he was born. Not sure why she’s here, but my brother is on his way, along with our family attorney, and an officer if necessary. There’s a stipulation if she comes within so many feet of Jace, she’ll be arrested. I hate that this is happening on school property, but if it’s not done correctly, it could blow out of proportion.” We shake hands.

“I see. Alright. Do you mind staying out here while I move her into another room? As you know, it’s almost time for school to let out, and I’d like things to go as smoothly as possible,” she asks.

“Not a problem. Thanks for your help.” I nod. My hands move to my pockets as she walks away. God, what I wouldn’t give to have Jace and Alana wrapped in my arms right about now. It sure would calm me down. God, if I have to go through explaining to Jace about his mom again, it’s going to suck. The last time that happened, my boy broke down, bawled his eyes out with snot running down his face, and barreled into my chest, where I held him until he cried so hard, he fell asleep. Not the best of days, but as long as I had him in my arms, I knew he was safe from the burdens of his mother.

“Mr. Hart, if you’ll follow me. I think it’s best if you stay outside of Miss. Morrero’s class. That way, she can still dismiss her students and your eyes will be on Jace.”

“Thank you,” I tell her. She’s in business mode, moving fast, walking me towards Alana’s room.

“No problem. I just ask that you handle things once the students are safely off campus,” she states.

“Not a problem.” I don’t even ask how her meeting with Anna went. She’s the last person on my mind. Mrs. Smith knocks on Alana’s door then uses her key to unlock it. They talk for a few moments, and then Mrs. Smith leaves the door open, and I step inside, staying close to the door while being out of the way. Alana gives me a look of relief. I nod knowing that we have at least ten more minutes until things will be right again.

“Alright, class, time to grab your lunch boxes and backpacks. When you have those, line up by the door.” I watch as Alana shines in all her glory, handing off each child to their parents, chatting for a few minutes, and saying goodbye.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” Jace comes up to me. He noticed me but was busy hanging out with friends.

“Wow, can’t a dad come and hang out with his son and woman?” I bend down and ruffle his hair, bringing him in for a hug that I need more than he does.

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