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After the shoe store and the puppet show and lunch, Rosie and Bette walked along the water hand in hand. Bette slowed her long legs to keep pace with Rosie’s smaller ones and they made their way through the small Riverwalk area, looking in store windows and chatting about the boats or the birds.
They came across a fisherman packing up his gear for the day and he opened his cooler to show Rosie what he caught. Rosie pulled on Bette’s hand to get her to crouch beside her so she could point out all the fish, knowing exactly what kind each fish was and petting each one as she named them.
It was such a relaxing, simple day. Exactly what Bette needed and Rosie too she suspected. Tina knew what Bette needed today, she always seemed to just know, they were so in sync. Bette smiled at Rosie as she giggled at a fat worm the fisherman was showing her.
She thought about Tina for a minute, checked her phone. The last text had been almost two hours ago and only mentioned that they were on their way to the prison. Tina refused to give Bette much in the way of information, wanting Bette to enjoy her day and not worry.
“Check in Tee. Having a wonderful day with Rosie…” she texted, sending a picture of Rosie holding the worm in her palm, her eyes big.
After the fish were told goodbye, they walked to the end of the pier and Bette picked Rosie up to hold her close as they leaned into the rail, watching the waves and the boats. The sun kissed their cheeks and the wind blew their curls and for a moment, anything seemed possible.
“We could take this to court. Petition a Judge to terminate your rights based on the consecutive life sentences for dealing and the circumstances in which Rosie was found.” Stephens said, sliding the document towards Rudy’s lawyer, who picked it up to read.
“Rudy. Come on, it’s me. We used to play catch on the fields after school, remember? We floated down the river, climbed Rooster Rock together. This is silly. Rosie is smart, sensitive. We can give her a good home, a good life.”
“You and your woman lover? Give her a good life? You can give me a million dollars is what you can fucking do…” he snorted, looking at his lawyer and they both chuckled.
Tina’s eyes narrowed. She felt a headache coming on, the edge of it creeping up the back of her neck. She bit her lip, watching as Rudy squinted at the document as his lawyer explained it to him.
“I ain’t signing.” Rudy sneered, cracking his knuckles. “I ain’t signin ‘til you agree to the fucking money.”
Tina stood, the chair behind her scooting back. She was not leaving here without making steps towards resolution. This was for Rosie. For Bette. “We can talk about money, Rudy. But first, I want a paternity test. Now. Today. Make that fucking happen…” she ordered the lawyers, “I need some fresh air.”