Justice Falling

By: Audrey Carlan

Chapter 1

Ten thousand dollars. That’s how much my silence cost me. In my defense, I had no choice. Eighteen. Pregnant. No money. No family. No concrete place to live. I did what I had to do.

When it happened, I thought it a joke. Who gets a woman pregnant, asks her to abort their child and when she won’t, buys you off? One person did, and I was the messed up girl who let him. For me and for the life I carried inside of me, it had been my only option.

Thinking back, I should have pushed harder, made him take responsibility. Even though my life was hard now and I barely had enough to pinch two pennies together, Tanner was worth it all. In spades. The room started to change as I thought back to that day four years ago, when I approached my son’s father for the last time.

“You’re nothing but a two-bit whore. I should have known the sweet and innocent thing was just an act. You are a gold-digger. I’ll bet you planned this to trap me!” he roared.

“I … I d-didn’t” The words left my lips on a choked sob. I tried to reach for his arm, anything to hold onto the man I thought I loved. He shucked off my advance as if revolted. His face held in a menacing scowl.

“Oh please. The moment we fucked you got pregnant? I’ve been with my wife for five years. Five. Fucking. Years! We’ve never so much as had a pregnancy scare.”

Wife. He had a wife? That one word rang like a gong in my ears, deafening, blocking out all sound. Finally his words came back, “You and I fucked a handful of times, and you get pregnant?” He shook his head and scowled. “It’s probably not even mine!”

“This is your child! You’re the only one, Tyler, I’d never be unfaithful. I was a virgin!”

“Well not anymore, sweet cheeks. Now you’re going to take that tight ass right down to the clinic and purchase an abortion. Here’s the money.” He pulled out a handful of hundreds.

“I’m not killing our baby, Tyler. Let’s be reasonable. We can work through this,” I pleaded, tears streaming down my face, wetting my shirt. I placed my hand over my abdomen protectively. He scanned me with a grimace, noticing the same pair of jeans I wore every Friday, the one pair of shoes I owned scuffed even after I scrubbed them clean in the hotel bathroom’s sink.

“Are you fucking insane? You must be.” He flicked his index finger hard against my temple as if knocking on a door. I winced, realizing in that moment that he was not the person I thought he was. How could I have been so stupid? Naïve. His eyes blazed with white hot fire. I stood still, trying to be strong though I was petrified. “Get it through your stupid-fucking-little-itty-bitty-brain. I do not want you. I do not want your child. You will get rid of it.”

“I will not!” I held my chin stiff as he gripped it painfully. I stared into his blue eyes. They were squinted together so tight I no longer was able to see the ones I so loved. Now they were glacial, cold, with intent to harm.

“I’m not going to take care of this bastard child or you.” He walked over to his desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out an old-fashioned cash box. He counted out ten stacks of crisp, one hundred dollar bills. He piled them up, grabbed my hand, and slammed them into my palm so hard I stepped back, afraid he might do something and physically hurt me. After my last foster parent, I was used to taking a beating, but now that I was pregnant I’d do anything to avoid one.

“You’ll take this money and get rid of it. I don’t care what you do or where you go. This is all you’re ever going to get out of me. Do you understand, you fuckwit?”

I couldn’t believe his response. It was my nightmare come true. I gripped the money tight, holding onto it as if it were a talisman, a way out of this hell. I didn’t know what I was going to do beyond this point, but I had to figure it out and fast. I stared at the ground and nodded.

This was it. My path chosen in the blink of an eye. I was going to be a single mother.

A shudder rippled through me as I sat at my beautiful, solid oak desk at the front of Jensen Construction. I had been working here for the past three months, a quasi-receptionist/secretary/personal assistant to Hank Jensen.

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