Thanks to everyone still reading, reviewing and favouriting! I am determined to finish this story at some point so I don't want to give away the ending to any readers through private message (sorry!) Please continue to bear with me. I recently got married so everything has changed for me and don't have as much time to write anything, let alone this! Hope you enjoy the update!
Sarah had never been so excited about a prison visit in all her life. Of course, any time she visited Garrett she looked forward to it. Despite the fact they were separated by glass and that it only lasted an hour, it still gave her a thrill to see him, especially now that he was looking so much better. Since his suicide attempt, and realisation that he was glad he hadn't been successful, there had been a new spring in his step, a positivity that only made her feel more content despite their separation.
But on this day, she was genuinely excited. Deciding to leave Tom with Lisa, so that she and Garrett could talk without being interrupted by a crying baby, she had made herself up to look her best. He would most likely already know the news, but she still felt as though they should celebrate it together.
She would remember the phone call for weeks to come. When she had heard Bryan's voice, she had assumed that it was bad news, but he had quickly dispelled her fears by confirming that they had a date for the appeal hearing. July 27th. It seemed so near and yet so far, with no positive outcome guaranteed, but it was something.
The door on the other side of the glass opened suddenly and there he was, smiling broadly at her, and she knew instantly that he had heard the news. Grabbing the receiver, she grinned in return. "You've heard then?"
"Bryan came to visit me first thing this morning," he replied. "He looked about as excited as you. You think he gets this het up about all his clients?"
"Only the ones who bring him the best kind of notoriety. After all, he is doing all this for free," she replied. "He called me just before I left to come here. I can't believe it, finally!"
"Can't get our hopes up, Sarah."
"No, but we can be positive about it. You never know what they might decide."
"Still could be fifteen years."
"It could be a whole new trial! And even if it isn't, even if they only review your sentence and it's fifteen years, it's better than sixty." She smiled encouragingly at him. "How's the counselling going?" Ever since his brush with death, Garrett had been receiving weekly counselling sessions to try and get him to open up, talk about his feelings and ensure there wouldn't be a repeat of what had happened.
"Good, I think," he replied. "Feels weird talking about my past to someone I don't even know but..." he shrugged. "I don't know, I guess it helps. How's Tom?"
She noticed the quick subject change but chose to ignore it. "He's great. I didn't bring him today but he's getting bigger all the time. Every time I look at him I see you. It hurts sometimes, but in a good way."
"Have you seen your folks since you were last here?"
Her face darkened at the mention of them. "No."
"Have you even spoken to them?"
"I don't need them, especially not after what they've done. Oh, Mom still calls the house sometimes and Dad even came and knocked the door on Monday but Lisa wouldn't let him in. I don't want to see or speak to either of them ever again."
"You don't mean that."
"I do. After not telling me that you came to the hospital? Making me believe that you couldn't have cared less? No, they don't deserve me in their life, or Tom."
"He's their grandson and family's important. Lord only knows I can't do anything for him stuck in here. He's going to need everyone he can get, and I'm sure your folks love him, regardless of who his father is."
Sarah said nothing, unwilling to repeat the argument they always had every time she visited him. In her heart, she knew he was right. Tom did deserve loving grandparents, but at the moment, all she could taste was their betrayal. Maybe one day she could find it in her heart to forgive. One day, but not right now.
Sarah paused at the prospect of yet another difficult conversation. She had wanted to tell him on every visit since Christmas, but somehow she just hadn't had the heart to. Today however, with the good news they had had, she figured it was time to come clean. "It's..." He looked questioningly at her. "Well, it's..." she sighed heavily. "To be honest, I haven't been back since the holidays."
"What?" Garrett stared at her. "What are you talking about?"
"After everything that happened with you and my parents, I just..." she broke off, knowing that she had no real excuse. "I just haven't gone back."
"But you told me that it was fine. That your classes were fine, that you were talking to more people..."
Sarah looked away, unwilling to meet his gaze. It felt unnerving, discomfiting, that someone who, by his own admission, had done so much wrong could make her feel so inadequate over something like school. "I didn't want to tell you."
"Sarah..." he shook his head. "You can't give up school. You can't throw away this opportunity..."
"Meaning what?" she glared at him. "Meaning I shouldn't throw away this opportunity like I threw Stanford away?"
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to."
"You're a mother now, Sarah. You have Tom to think about. Like it or not you need to support him..."
"I am supporting him! I got a job, that's how I'm supporting him!" She had never admitted to Garrett that her parents had kept them both financially whilst she was at school and that now, without them, she couldn't afford to be there.
"What sort of job?"
"Well, that's the best bit really. Bryan took me on as a clerical assistant!"
Garrett frowned, "Bryan who?"
"Bryan, our Bryan!" she exclaimed. "He said he could use the help so..." she spread her hands. "It seemed ideal. I get to make money and bug him about your case at the same time. I offered to help him work on the appeal but he reckoned that would be slightly unethical given I'm the alleged victim." She wanted him to be happy for her, to see what a good opportunity it was, but he simply looked hurt.
"How long have you been working there?"
"A few weeks."
"A few weeks?! And you couldn't be bothered to tell me the truth?"
"It's not like that..."
"Well when were you going to tell me?"
"If we hadn't had such good news about the appeal today, would you have told me?"
"Probably...I don't know..." she looked at him beseechingly. "Please, please don't be angry with me."
"I don't understand why you lied to me," he persisted. "Why didn't you just tell me the first time you came back to visit?"
She shrugged and looked down at the floor, "I suppose I was worried you'd be disappointed in me, which you obviously are." Hot tears pricked at the corner of her eyes and her nose started to itch. "I can't say with Lisa forever, the place is crowded enough as it is. I need to get my own place and I can only do that if I work so..."
"Sarah." She met his gaze again. "I'm not disappointed in you, I'm disappointed for you. Hell, I'm not doing either of you much good in here and I guess I wanted...hoped...that you could have some kind of good, successful life on the outside without me. Fulfil that potential I know you have. Instead, I feel as though I've taken all that away from you."
"No!" she exclaimed, "That's not how I see it, not at all. Without you I wouldn't know what it's like to really love someone and I wouldn't have Tom. I wouldn't change any of that. Besides," she tried to bring the conversation back to the happy news, "when you get out of here, you can look after him and I can go back to school then."
"You shouldn't have lied to me."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"I never lied to you. Through all of this, I have never lied to you."
"Ok, I get it!" She snapped. "Please, can we just leave it?"
"Fine," he said, getting to his feet. "Let's just leave it."
"Garrett..." but he was gone.
Garrett looked up into the sympathetic face of Mike, one of the few decent guards in the prison and the one who had accompanied him to the hospital for Tom's birth. Since he had been back on the general wing, Mike had taken it upon himself to keep an eye on Garrett and, for that, he was in fact grateful.
"I guess," he replied.
"How was Sarah?"
"Fine. Seems to have it all figured out."
Mike sat down opposite him, seemingly sensing his frustration. "How do you mean?"
"She's dropped out of school and got herself a job with my lawyer." It was almost comical when he thought about it.
"Isn't that a good thing? She needs a job to support your son."
"I know that but...it's just..." he shook his head. "She lied to me. She told me she had gone back to school and it was a lie and...I never lied to her, not once through any of it. I was always honest with her about everything. It's like...it's like if I can't rely on her to be honest with me, who can I rely on?"
"That's a tough one," Mike said. "I guess all you can do is try to work through it like any normal couple."
Garrett let out a short laugh, "We're not exactly a normal couple."
" I know, look," Mike sat forwards, "I know this is not the time to be telling you this, but I was called into the Governor's office today. They're considering moving you to the protection wing."
Garrett's head snapped up, "No!"
"He thinks it's appropriate, especially given the nature of your conviction. Like it or not, Garrett, you're a convicted rapist..."
"I didn't rape her!" Garrett raged, getting to his feet.
"I know that," Mike said, standing up in front of him. "But it's still on your sheet and guys with that kind of conviction usually go to the protection wing."
"I'm not going to the protection wing!"
"Ok, calm down..." Mike put his hands out as two other guards wandered over to join them, clearly alerted by the outburst. "I don't want to upset you. I just want you to think about it and..."
"Just quieten down, Haynes," one of the other guards said, his hand resting on the handle of his baton.
"I'm not going to protection! I don't need protection!" Garrett insisted, backing away from them. "I'm not going!"
In the days that followed, he would replay what happened next over and over in his head. Did he make some sort of threatening move towards them, or were they simply looking for an excuse? Either way, he tasted blood on his lip and found himself forcibly restrained and on his way to isolation.
Eight o'clock came and went without Garrett's usual nightly call. Even on the days when she had seen him, he would still call just to check in and make sure everything was all right. Usually she sat right next to the receiver, poised to lift it on the first ring but, on that evening, the phone stayed silent.
"Maybe there's a problem with the phones," Lisa tried to reassure her. "Hell, Darryl's always messing up when it comes to calling me, you know that."
Sarah nodded, but said nothing. Garrett never missed a call, never. It could only mean one thing; he was furious with her for not telling him about school. She cursed herself for not being honest with him and berated herself for the pathetic reasons she had justified to herself. By the time nine o'clock came, she had to accept the fact that he wasn't going to call and headed up to her room to check on Tom. He was lying on his back in his crib, his chest rising and falling, his little body still in blissful repose. She hoped he was dreaming good things. On the bed beside him was a copy of the daily newspaper turned to the property section. She had circled a few prospects that morning and had intended to sit down that evening and look through them in detail before deciding which to go and visit, but she no longer seemed to have the motivation.
She flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Was it so wrong to dream about a little house in the country with a white picket fence that she, Garrett and Tom could all live in together? The only way to realise that dream was to earn money and whilst it was nice to think that she could have become a teacher, it was a dream she knew she couldn't realise without the security of her parents backing and she had no intention of running back to them.
Garrett hadn't really given her much chance to explain about the job with Bryan, but she was enjoying it. It was interesting and varied and who knew what it might eventually lead to. Besides, even if he had told her she couldn't do anything on the appeal, it felt good to be close to what was going on, even if it had been a Saturday that the news of the appeal had come in.
She looked up at a soft knocking on the door and saw Lisa in the doorway. "I was going to order some pizza and open some wine. Fancy joining me?"
Sighing heavily, she got to her feet. "Why not? It's not as if I've got anything else planned for a Saturday night."
"I can't bear it!" Sally raged, slamming the plates down on the table. "I can't bear it any longer, Frank! I want Sarah back here! I want her and Tom back here where they both belong!"
"What do you want me to do? Go in the house and physically drag them out?" Frank replied, tossing his newspaper to one side. "I told you that Lisa girl wouldn't let me in when I got there last Monday."
"Was Sarah even in the house?"
"I've no idea."
"Well why didn't you...I don't know...look?"
"Peering in someone's windows is a sure fire way to get myself arrested, Sally. I don't really think that's going to help anything, do you?"
Sally sank down in her seat and ran a hand over her eyes. They had neither seen nor spoken to Sarah since Christmas Day when she had left in a cloud of dust, furious with them over what had happened with Haynes. Most of the time, Sally felt she had done the right thing by keeping the truth from her daughter. What mother wouldn't have wanted to protect her child? But there were other times, times when she allowed herself to think as Sarah might think, to try and appreciate the feelings her daughter had for Haynes as a result of the syndrome, times when she could see that she might have had a point...
"Look, the way I see it is, we can't do anything until such time as Sarah comes to her senses," Frank said, breaking into her thoughts. "And she will, eventually, when she realises that money doesn't grow on trees. We've done a lot for that girl, in spite of everything she put us through."
"She was sick," Sally said wearily, "it's an illness."
"Illness my ass," he said viciously. "The more I think about the whole sorry incident the more I think she wasn't sick at all, just merely enjoying the thrill of the ride with Haynes." He lifted his paper. "She made her own Goddamn bed with him and she well and truly lay in it. Let her see what it's like to have to shoulder all the responsibility for once in her life. Mark my words, she'll be back here with her tail between her legs in no time."
"Can I help you with that?"
Sarah looked up from the box she was attempting to move into the smiling face of Kevin Bruce, Bryan's associate, and straightened up. "No, it's ok. I got it." It was Monday morning, the start of another working week, and she hadn't heard from Garrett since the aborted visit on Saturday.
"You don't look as though you've got it. In fact, you couldn't look less like you've got it if you tried."
"Well, I just need to move it from here into the other storage room, but it's a little heavier than I was led to believe it would be."
"Who asked you to move it?"
"Typical lawyer, lying out of his ass. Here, I'll help you."
"Thanks." Sarah stepped back and watched as he crouched down and started dragging the offensive box in question across the floor. The rolled up sleeves on his shirt revealed strong, muscular arms that strained with the effort and she couldn't help but wonder if he was that toned all over. Stop it, she scolded herself forcefully. Just because Garrett's being an ass doesn't mean you should be letting your gaze wander!
"There we go!" Kevin declared once he had pulled the box into the storage room. Straightening up, he wiped his hands together. "I reckon effort like that deserves a caffeine reward. Can I get you a coffee?"
"Oh...uh...yeah, why not?" Sarah heard herself say as she followed him to the machine.
"So, how are you finding it here?" Kevin asked. "It must be, what, a month now since you started?"
"Almost," she replied. "I like it. Most people are friendly..."
"Well, there's a couple of the secretaries who look at me as though I'm a leper but apart from that..."
"Well, you are kind of famous around here I suppose," he said, pressing the button for a black coffee. "It's not often that we have the alleged victims in cases we're dealing with come and work here. In fact, scratch that, it's never happened before you."
Sarah laughed, even though the word victim made her skin crawl. "I guess not. They probably all think it's part of the illness. A need to be close to the people dealing with my captor."
"What do you think?"
"I think it's bullshit."
It was Kevin's turn to laugh, "A woman that's not afraid to speak her mind, I like that." He handed her a cup. "How's your son?"
"Tom? He's great. Growing every day."
"I bet he's a handful."
"He can be," she sipped her coffee slowly. "But he makes it all worth it, makes the fight all worth it. If Garrett was in jail and I didn't have Tom...I think it would be so much harder to keep going. A reduction in sentence to fifteen years would be great in any circumstance but...it would be a long time on my own."
"You think you can hold out for fifteen years? If that's what happens?"
Sarah turned to face him. "I can hold out for sixty if I have to."
"Wow," he laughed, "that's...that's love all right."
"Or an extreme case of Stockholm Syndrome?"
Kevin smiled, "He's a lucky guy, whichever one it is."