By the sympathetic look and the nodding of the judge’s head Sara had made headway in their case to keep Lily. Trust her to speak so frankly and succinctly. Grant wanted her in his corner all the time. What would life have been like for him if he’d heard just a little of that confidence in him from his father? It didn’t matter now because Sara had faith enough in him to make up for anything his father had said.
“Now, if you don’t mind I think I’ll take Lily outside to finish feeding her,” Sara said.
The judge nodded. “That will be fine.”
Sara pushed the stroller out of the way, stood and took Lily from Grant. The baby made a sound of protest. He quickly handed the bottle and rag to Sara, who smiled at him and left the room. The woman was a class act. Without her he wouldn’t have had a chance to keep Lily.
Mr. Armstead sat forward in his chair. “Judge, I understand that Dr. Smythe and Mrs. Smythe have only been married a few weeks.”
The judge looked at Grant. “Is this true?”
He needed to use as few words as possible. To always tell the truth. “Yes, sir.”
“Did this custody case bring on a hasty marriage?”
“Sir, I consider marriage a serious institution. I would never enter into it without thought. I saw in Sara a wonderful mother. We both wanted to be parents to Lily. And we have been.”
To Grant’s great relief, the judge nodded as if satisfied.
“I think I have heard all I need. I’ll let both parties know my decision in a week or two.” The judge was clearly dismissing them.
Grant pushed the stroller out into the adjoining room and found Sara and Lily there. He took the now empty bottle from Sara and stored it away in the diaper bag. He spoke to Leon for a few minutes then they all walked to the parking area.
In the SUV, ready to go home, Grant turned to Sara. “Thanks. You were great in there. I’m grateful for all the nice things you said. I really think it made a difference.”
She smiled. “I hope so. I meant every word. You have become and will continue to be a wonderful father.”
“I hope the judge sees it that way.”
“I’m sure he will.”
* * *
Over the next week it was a waiting game. They didn’t talk about the looming custody decision but Sara was well aware it weighed on Grant’s mind. Still, those days were some of the happiest for her. She couldn’t have wished for Grant to be more attentive. A number of times they went out to dinner but the dates were nowhere as extravagant as their first one. Even then the custody decision hung over their heads. If he won, would he expect her to leave right away? After all, that had been their agreement.
There were still no goodbye kisses when he left for work or returned. Not even during their dates, except for the one time when he’d presented her with a star named after her. It was as if he drew the line, equating that type of affection with a true marriage. Did he think if he kissed her in the light of day then theirs would no longer be a business deal? It was a daily reminder of the true nature of their relationship.
They talked, shared their life stories but he never said anything about how he felt about her. Neither did he question her about her feelings for him. They continued to play house as if nothing would ever change. Their time was sweet but she often wondered in the early hours of the morning when the bitter time would come. And it would, she was confident of that.
With each passing day her attachment to Lily grew as well. The baby who just ate and slept had grown into one who smiled and cooed at Grant and herself. With each passing day all that she feared was happening. Her love for Grant and Lily was deepening. There was nothing to stop the heartache now. The only thing she could do was try to survive it when the time came.
For someone outside, looking at her life, it couldn’t be any better. For her, she was waiting for Grant to tell her to leave.
A week and a half after the court case Sara received a phone call from her former boss.
“Sara, I’m looking for someone to start up a program and oversee it in Wilmett. You were the first one to come to mind. I know the compassion you have for the patients and families and I understand your need to not get too involved right now. I thought this might be the perfect position for you. For the amount of work there will be a substantial salary.” He told her an amount.
It was generous. “I’ll have to think about it. I’m employed right now and I don’t know how much longer this job will last.”