Karen frowned as she entered the living room. “Hey! Why is the door wide open?” She slammed it closed, latched the chain lock, and punched in the code to arm the security system.
Nathan, her teenage son, thumped down the stairs in his quest for the kitchen and food. “Sorry, Mom. Must have forgot after Billy left.”
She drew in a deep breath to repeat a lecture she had given both her children numerous times. Nathan recognized the “look” and redirected her attention. “A letter came for you today; it’s from some attorney’s office.”
Karen exhaled with a sputter. “Where?”
Nathan bolted for safety, tossing off, “It’s on the coffee table” over his shoulder.
She pursed her lips at her son’s nonchalance as she tossed the keys into a basket on the stand by the doorway. She strode over to the coffee table and flipped through the stack. Insurance, bill, bill, therapist, bill…ah. The return address read Jackson & Taylor Law Offices. She ripped open the envelope and scanned the letter.
Her heart paused as disbelief and anger swelled in her chest. “That son of a bitch!”
Nathan popped his head out of the kitchen. “What’s wrong, Ma?”
“Nothing!” The paper crumpled in her fist and Nathan retreated back into the kitchen, muttering under his breath. Karen ignored her confused boy and dug into purse for the cell. Wallet, mace, and safety whistle flew around the room before her fingers found what she searched for. She jerked it out of her purse and hit the number for her therapist.
Her stomps marked the trail she took around the room as she paced, waiting for someone to pick up. “Dr. Brannigan’s office. How may-?”
“I need to talk to Dr. Brannigan now! It’s Karen Tompkins.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Tompkins. He’s in a session righ-”
“I don’t care!” Her adrenaline crashed and anger wormed into desperation. “Please. Tell him…” She collapsed onto the brand new sofa. “Tell him it’s an emergency. Please…I don’t know what to do.”
“Hang on, Mrs. Tompkins,” the nurse said in a softer voice. “I’ll go get him.”
“Thank you.” Karen wiped her eyes and noticed where she sat. She scrambled off the sofa and into her easy-chair, breath heaving.
Karen closed her eyes in relief at the sound of Dr. Brannigan’s voice. “He’s…he’s suing me! The bastard is suing me!”
“Hang on. Who is suing you?”
She slapped the leather arm of her chair in frustration. “Him! The man who broke in and…and…killed James. He’s suing me because James wounded him in the fight and he’s claiming ’emotional distress.'” A bitter laugh barked out. “Ha! Do you believe that? He’s in ’emotional distress.'”
Dr. Brannigan’s soothing baritone vibrated in her ear as he spoke. “Karen, he doesn’t have a case. Nobody in their right mind would give him anything.”
“I still have to go to court, get a lawyer, and all it takes in some con-man with a law degree to convince twelve idiots not smart enough to-”
“I don’t have the money…and the kids…did I tell you I can’t even sit on the new couch because it reminds me of where he died? I can’t go through this…the kids can’t go through this again.”
The doctor sighed. “I know, Karen. I know.” His voice lowered and took on furtive tone. “Listen, I may be able to help. You meet some…interesting people in my line of work. Normally, I wouldn’t do this, but…”
Karen strained to hear the words she had longed for for some time. “‘But’ what, Lyle?”
“Nothing.” His voice became crisp and businesslike once again. “I…I’ll help you out, Karen. Don’t worry about anything.”
Dr. Brannigan ended the call, and Karen clutched the phone to her chest, old wounds ripped open and seeping into her soul. Hatred for the man who shattered her life warred with guilt over falling in love again, swirling in combat to create an aching vortex of confusion.
“Mom?” Nathan knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.
She patted his arm and forced a smile. “It’s okay, baby. I’ll be okay.”
“What was that letter?”
She glanced at the crumpled mess in her hand and tossed it into a wastebasket. “Nothing. Just something stupid. Dr. Brannigan said he’ll take of it.”
Her forced smile became real at the thought.
For Today’s Author – Write Now! Prompt: A letter came for you today; it’s from some attorney’s office.
Twice a week they have a sentence prompt and encourage you to write for at least five minutes on whatever comes to mind. Head over to Today’s Author and check it out.
Hope you enjoy.
Happy Reading and Writing!