Charlotte was brought into the courtroom in the same clothing she threw on that morning before she met with the police before this nightmare started. Her hair was messy, her pretty face red and blotchy and she looked like she had been through hell and back. The bailiff removed her handcuffs as Sarah Laken hugged her.
“I’ve had a chance to speak with the boy’s mother, Charlotte. She doesn’t really want to see you go to jail, so we might have a resolution very soon.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Charlotte cried, trying hard not to be emotional. Travis walked into the courtroom and spotted her.
“Baby!” he cried out, running to her. He embraced her tightly, kissing her. “I am so sorry, baby,” he apologized. “I would have never let them in if I had known they were going to arrest you.”
“The kids… did any of them see?” That was what she was truly the most worried about.
He couldn’t lie to her. “Darcey did, honey. She’s been a mess all day.”
“My poor baby,” she said, looking forlorn.
The bailiff put a halt to Travis and Charlotte’s conversation and asked him to be seated. The hospital’s attorney and Guy Sander arrived and were seated next to where Sarah and Charlotte sat. Sarah stood immediately.
“I am going to pursue the best possible outcome for my client, whether or not that coincides with the hospital’s best interest. I will not tolerate any characterization of Dr. Jones that paints her in a bad light, am I making myself clear?”
“Laken. Sarah Laken.”
“Ms. Laken, we don’t want to see Dr. Jones punished wrongly, so we are also here to represent her best interest as well. But I look forward to working together with you on this case.”
“Oh really?” Sarah said snidely. “How are you going to suggest she plea?”
“No contest, that way she can go right to sentencing and make a deal with the prosecution.”
“Wrong answer, counsel,” Sarah said firmly. “She did nothing wrong. She will be entering a Not Guilty plea.”
“You are condemning her to a court trial and more jail time.”
“You are assuming that she is guilty, or that she did something wrong.”
“Well, didn’t she, counsel?”
“If attempting to save a life is now criminal, why do we even have hospitals anymore?”
“That’s not the point of this case, and you know that, Ms. Laken.” The attorney looked down his nose at her. “She acted without consent from the patient’s next of kin. She knew the consequences and she did it anyway.”
“What seems to be the problem here, ladies and gentlemen?” Kurt Black, Sarah’s friend, interrupted the altercation.
“Oh Kurt, it’s so good to see you. I was just telling this counsel that Dr. Jones will be entering a Not Guilty plea.”
“Why is this objectionable, Mr.?”
“Hicks. Earl Hicks. The hospital believes she should enter a plea of No Contest.”
“You are assuming guilt,” Kurt countered. “The prosecution will have a difficult time establishing that.”
“Trust me, Mr. Black, she will want to plead No Contest.”
Kurt and Earl went back and forth for several minutes, when Kurt approached Sarah, shaking his head.
“What’s wrong?” she asked him.
“Charlotte’s supervisor claims to have a full confession given by Charlotte last night. If they admit this in court, I can’t defend a Not Guilty. The evidence will kill her.”
“What exactly did she supposedly say?”
“He claims she said she wasn’t sorry she did it, and she would do it again.”
‘Have you spoken with the boy’s mother? When I talked with her this morning, she seemed like she was having second thoughts.”
“I haven’t yet, no. She’s expected to be here, however. I’ll see if I can speak with her before her testimony.”
Mary Riggins, Logan’s mother, entered the courtroom. She immediately recognized Charlotte and walked to Sarah. “I’m Mary Riggins, we spoke this morning?”
“Yes, hi Mrs. Riggins. Do you mind if we speak with you in private?” Kurt pulled her aside.
“Not at all.” She looked at Charlotte, who appeared completely broken, and was sorry she had begun this whole process. In the grief of losing her only son, she wanted retribution, but she wasn’t sure anymore.
“Mrs. Riggins, you told Sarah this morning you weren’t sure you want to continue with the charges against Dr. Jones, is that correct?”
“It is,” she said, weeping. “I shouldn’t be taking my sorrow out on someone else. She did what any good doctor would have done. Does she have children?”
“She has three young children, Ma’am,” Sarah affirmed.
“I can’t take their mother from them. I can’t fault her for doing what she felt was right. She was just doing her job.” Mary Riggins wept openly.
Sarah was pleased to hear this new information, but she wished desperately the charges had never been brought in the first place. This would set a horrible new precedent if Charlotte was found guilty and incarcerated.
Kurt counseled the boy’s mother and advised her what to tell the judge at the beginning of the arraignment. He hoped her testimony would be enough to stop the process, but he feared it wouldn’t be.
A tall, lanky red-headed man entered the courtroom, and Travis stood. “Chris!” he called to him. “Over here!” Charlotte’s head spun to see her brother, and she began to cry again.
“Christopher!” she cried. “How? How did you know?”
“Oh, it’s all over the news, Charlotte. This is a big deal, you should see the Paparazzi around your house.”
Travis was not pleased to know about that. They were persistent as it was, without a scandal. Now they would be relentless.
The prosecutor and the judge both entered at the same time, and the court was in session. The prosecutor stood and presented the charges against Charlotte. Manslaughter in the first degree, criminal negligence. The first charge had the possibility of a death sentence, and the county would not rule it out. Criminal negligence carried a much smaller penalty, but if convicted would still be prison time or a hefty fine.
Mary Riggins stood and addressed the court. “Your Honor, I do not wish to pursue legal action against Dr. Jones further. She was doing her job, and she shouldn’t be punished for trying to save my Logan.”
“Counsel, is this acceptable to the prosecution?” The judge asked the District Attorney. They talked among themselves for a moment.
“Mrs. Riggins, you are sure you wish to drop all charges against Dr. Jones?” The DA asked her.
“Yes, I am, and I do,” came her unwavering answer.
“The prosecution acknowledges and accepts. There will be no further prosecution of Dr. Jones.”
The judge banged his gavel, and the court was adjourned. Charlotte didn’t even realize what had taken place. Sarah jumped up and hugged her. “You’re free, Charlotte. The boy’s mother dropped the charges, and the DA agreed.” Still, she looked dazed, not processing what had happened.
“Baby! Come on, let’s get you out of here, honey,” Travis said, hugging her close.
“What happened?” she asked. “I didn’t get to say anything.”
“You don’t need to, baby. The boy’s mother doesn’t want to press charges, honey. We can go home.” Travis was anxious to get her away from the courtroom, just in case someone had a change of heart.
Leaving the courtroom, they were barraged by the press, countless mics stuck in Charlotte’s face, and Travis was nearly carrying her out because she was unable to walk under her own power. What had happened to her while she was in custody wasn’t clear, but obviously something wasn’t right.
Travis put her into his car and buckled her in. Walking to the other side, he was approached by Mary Riggins.
“Sir, you must be Mr. Jones? I am so sorry for the sorrow I’ve caused your family.” She didn’t look to be much older than Charlotte.
“I’m so sorry about your son, Mrs. Riggins,” Travis offered. “I know she did everything she could to save him.”
“Thank you. I never meant to cause your family harm. It was shocking, to find out your only son was knocking on death’s door.” She wiped tears from her face. “But I shouldn’t have inflicted pain on someone else, because I was suffering. I’m happy the DA agreed to drop charges.”
“Thank you, we are too.” Travis gave her his business card. “If you need anything, even help with funeral costs, please, it’s the least we can do.” He hugged the boy’s mother, and she marveled at him.
“With everything I’ve put your wife through, I can’t believe your generous offer.” She was genuinely touched.
“Charlotte would want it no other way, believe me.” He embraced the woman and offered his condolences, then took Charlotte home. On the way, he called Darcey’s phone.
“Darce? It’s Daddy. I’m bringing Mama home.” He heard squeals of delight in the background.
“We can’t wait to see her,” Darcey sang. “I’ll tell Nae and Devin.”
“Good girl,” Travis told her. “I’m so proud of you.”
When they got home, Travis carried her into the house and set her on the sofa. He couldn’t tell if she was just tired or if something more was going on. “Baby, are you okay, honey?” he asked.
“No,” she replied. “I hurt.”
“Where? Where do you hurt?”
“Inside,” she said.
“What do you mean, baby?” he asked her.
She began to cry. “Don’t leave me. I’m afraid.”
He hugged her. “What happened to you?”
“I can’t…” she cried.
Tracy came down the stairs, checking to see if everything was okay before she let the children come to see her. “Is the coast clear, Mr Jones?” she asked.
“I don’t think so, Tracy. I’m going to take her to the hospital.” Something was wrong, and he was going to find out.
“Darcey will be disappointed,” she said. “Are you sure?”
“Yes! They shouldn’t see her like this. I’ll go up and explain before I take her.” He hugged Charlotte. “Baby, I’m going to go talk to the kids. I’ll be right back, and I’m taking you to the hospital.” She nodded her head weakly.
Travis ran up the stairs as quickly as he could, not wanting to leave Charlotte alone for very long. “Kids, here. Listen up. Your mama is sick, and I’m going to take her to the doctor, okay? We should be home later, but I’ll call Darcey and let her know.” He gathered them all for a hug and kissed them. “This will all be over soon, my punkins. I love you.”
“Tell Mama we love her, Daddy,” Darcey said.
“I will, babies.” He went back downstairs and Charlotte was calling for him. Tracy was standing by. “Thank you, Tracy. I don’t think we’ll be very long at the hospital. I just want them to check her out.”
“I’ll stay as long as you need me. Oh, and I cleaned up a pretty big mess down here this morning.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that,” Travis apologized. “It won’t go unnoticed in your pay.” Tracy smiled.
Picking Charlotte up, he carried her to the car and buckled her in. The crowd in front of the gate was huge and still growing, as he tried to get out of the driveway. Blowing his horn, he shouted at the crowd to disperse, and they eventually did. On the way over to the hospital, he called Dr. Myles.
“This is Travis Jones, please have Dr. Myles meet us at the hospital. Something is wrong with Charlotte, and I want to make sure what I suspect isn’t true.”
“She will be there momentarily, Mr. Jones.” The receptionist told him.
“Thank you,” he said, and hung up. “Hold on, baby,” he urged. “Help is on the way.”
They arrived at the emergency department, and a wheelchair was waiting for her at the door. Dr. Myles was already there, waiting for her. “What’s going on, Mr. Jones?” she asked Travis.
“She told me she hurts, inside.” He was visibly shaking. “I haven’t gotten her to say, but I suspect she might have been assaulted at the jail.”
Dr. Myles nodded. “Set up a rape kit, please,” she asked the nurse, as Travis helped her get onto the exam table.
Dr. Myles examined her and found no evidence of rape. She ordered blood and urine tests, just to be on the safe side, and the urine test showed a very bad infection, probably unrelated to current events. “She will need to be on antibiotics for a while, but I’ll give her a shot to move things along. It’s no wonder she hurts, these things can be miserable.”
“Charlotte, baby, I’ll be taking you home soon. You have a UTI, a bad one.” She felt warm to him. “Doc, what can I give her to help her feel better? She feels feverish.”
“Just over the counter pain reliever should be sufficient,” she told Travis. “Does she urinate when you are done with.. relations?” the doctor asked him.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I think so, but I can’t say for certain.”
“This might just be a case of what we call ‘honeymoon cystitis.’ It’s common, but completely preventable. But she should know this.” She washed up and shook Travis’ hand. “If you have any other questions, you have my number. She’ll be feeling better in a few days.”
Travis waited for the meds to be filled at the hospital pharmacy, and she was discharged. It was now well past the kids’ bedtime, and he knew they would want to see her. “Come on, baby,” he said. “Let’s get you home.”
“I don’t feel good,” she muttered. “I hurt.”
“I know, baby. You’re going to be sick for a few days.” He had his arm around her, steadying her as she walked.
“Ugh,” she groaned.
The drive home was miserable for her. “I have to pee, Travis,” she cried.
“I know, baby. We’re almost home.” At the gate, he had the same problem he did getting out, but the crowd cleared, and he closed the gate safely behind the car. He carried her into the house, to the downstairs bathroom, and helped her.
“Ow ow ow!” she cried. “Why does this hurt so bad?”
“You have a bad bladder infection, baby.”
“Oh my goodness, I hope I never go through this again. It’s worse than childbirth.” He couldn’t help himself and chuckled.
Tracy heard them home and padded down the stairs quietly. “The kids are in bed, but Darcey says she can’t sleep until she sees her mother.”
“Tracy, I can’t thank you enough for stepping up today and taking care of these babies for us.” He took his wallet out and peeled off ten large bills, and slipped them into her hands. “Please go do something nice for yourself. On us.”
“No, no,” she said, blushing. “This is too much, Travis.” She protested, trying to give half of it back.
“Please, take it, Tracy. You saved us today.” He hugged her quickly. “You’re free to go home.”
“Thank you!” she said, smiling. He heard Charlotte calling for him, and he ran to her side.
“Could you help me upstairs? I feel so weak,” she asked him.
“Of course,” he replied, picking her up. He didn’t realize how tired and sore his muscles were from carrying her. He almost couldn’t lift her, and she didn’t weigh much to start. But, he knew she couldn’t navigate the stairs, so he did it anyway. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he trudged upstairs with her.
“I want to see my baby boy first,” she said, as she limped toward the nursery door. He was sleeping, but she had to hold him. “Devin, sweetie, it’s Mama.”
Sleepily, he rolled over and when he saw her, his eyes widened. “Mama!” he cried, weeping on her shoulder. “I missed you.”
“Oh, baby boy, I missed you so much!” She snuggled him ferociously, covering him in kisses, shedding tears of her own. “I love you so much, little man.”
“I love you too, Mama,” he said. He gave her a sloppy kiss on her cheek, and she melted.
“I have to go see sissy now, but you go back to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up in the morning.” She tucked him in, and he blew her a kiss as she closed his door.
Travis had been watching the whole scene and was crying, painfully aware of how close she came to spending the night at the county jail. They walked together to the girls’ room, and both of them were wide awake, waiting to see her.
“Mama!” they both squealed and ran to her. Charlotte knelt down and allowed herself to be overtaken, and sobbed.
“Oh, my baby girls,” she cried. “I missed you two so much!” The twins were crying openly, and Darcey paid special attention to her, holding on tightly and not letting go.
“Mama, I was so scared,” she said. “I saw them taking you away, and I thought I’d never see you again.” Darcey was sobbing, trying to speak.
“I’m home, and we’re all safe,” she cried. “I love you both more than words can say.” She held them close and covered them in kisses, and even though they were outgrowing it, neither of them complained.
“Mama, I missed you so much,” Danae wept. “I’m glad you’re home.” Charlotte gave her another tight squeeze.
“I love you Nae,” she said. “I love you both. I have to go rest, though. I’m not feeling well, but I’ll be here when you wake up in the morning.” Travis got her up off the floor, and they tucked the girls into bed together.
Travis helped into the shower and got her cleaned up. They snuggled into bed together, and he wrapped around her. “I’m never going to let you go,” he whispered, as they both cried, the day’s events finally catching them.
“I don’t want you to let me go. Hold me forever,” she cried. And they fell asleep, intertwined together.
Up Next: Chapter Ten, Generation Four