Ryan sat in the waiting room of Redcliffe & Redcliffe with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He was there to meet with Genesis Redcliffe to discuss the divorce. Their law offices were conveniently located in the downstairs office space of C&M. He figured there was nothing wrong with Ami helping her son and his wife get setup so they didn’t have to buy or lease a space. Will Redcliffe did the majority of the legal work for C&M anyway, so it made sense.
Bel had told him she wanted full custody of Sam and half ownership in the gym. That was bullshit. He didn’t even know what all of that meant or if she could really do it. Adding insult to injury, she had the nerve to say she would give him full custody of Tyler in exchange. Bartering with her children was disgusting. She was sick.
He felt like he was on the verge of a breakdown when Genesis finally stepped in the waiting room to fetch him.
He followed her into her tiny office and sat down. He recanted Maribel’s demands, getting upset all over again.
“Ryan, calm down,” she said sternly, “and let’s talk this through. You aren’t going to give her full custody. You will be giving up too many of your parental rights. What we’ll do is agree to joint custody of both children…”
“She doesn’t want Tyler,” protested Ryan, “He’s already broken as far as she’s concerned. And Sam will most assuredly want to live with her mother, given the show.”
“Ryan, let me finish, please. I know you are hurting and scared. We can write in agreements about when you will see Sam and when she’ll see Tyler. Sam is old enough to choose which parent she will live with. And I do believe you’re right, she’ll choose Maribel. But it also sounds like she will be okay with Tyler living primarily with you. When you have joint custody, you won’t need to provide child support because theoretically, you will both be providing equal amounts of care.”
“Okay,” he said a bit calmer, “But what about the gym? I won’t give her half of it. Granted, she helped me craft the ideas early on, but she hasn’t been involved in at least 10 years.”
“You’ve provided her support since you’ve been married Ryan. She’s going to request that you continue to do so. Perhaps you can come up with a way to fairly divide your assets instead. You know her, what do you suggest?”
“Fuck, I’m screwed,” he said, scrubbing his hands across his face, “I do have some investments from the gym profits. I could give her one of the franchises but she wouldn’t know what to do with it. So, maybe I can just buy her off with my savings? Do you think I can offer her 80% of that in lieu of ongoing Alimony payments?”
“We can ask her,” replied Genesis, “if it’s enough, she may be okay with that. And as long as she doesn’t make us go before a judge to decide, then that could work. It would get her out of your life as much as possible.”
“What about Samantha’s trust?” asked Ryan, “She can’t access it without my signature. That might be difficult since we will be thousands of miles apart. Is there a way to make it where Maribel is the sole trustee?”
Genesis looked at him like he was crazy. “Are you sure you want to do that Ryan?”
“It’s not like there’s millions in there. Maybe ten thousand, if that. But we felt it needed to be put back for Sam’s college when she turns 18. So yes.”
Genesis sighed, “I don’t recommend it, but I understand. And actually, it might be a good strategy as well. Sam will likely need access to some of the money to pay for things associated with her career and it may appease Maribel. We can move it to a Del Sol Valley bank to manage.”
Ryan felt sick. “Fine. How fast can you get the papers drawn up?”
“If she’s coming to Newcrest, we can have her come here and she can sign the paperwork. As long as she agrees, we can get it signed and filed and in 10 days it will be a done deal.”
“She and Sam are already here,” said Ryan, “A moving company is coming to get their things tomorrow. I’m sure she could probably come in, and likely has her own attorney.”
“Then she should bring them,” said Genesis.
“Okay, let me text her and we can get this shit done.”
Ryan quickly texted that he had divorce papers drawn up and they could meet at Redcliffe & Redcliffe to get them signed and move forward.
He looked up. “She wants a copy, and said she’d be here. Can you email it to her?”
“Yes, of course. How about we meet tomorrow afternoon?”
“Okay… Fuck – this sucks,” said Ryan his eyes swimming in tears.
“It’s gonna be okay Ryan,” said Genesis gently, “There is life after divorce. I promise. Look at your father.”
“Thanks a lot Gen,” he said sarcasm dripping.
“Oops. Bad example. How about your brother-in-law? Evan and Reagan are very happy.”
Ryan let out a humorless laugh. “Right Gen,” he said. Marrying Evan’s ex-wife was not one of his stellar decisions. He’d even lost the reason for the marriage in the first place, their beautiful daughter Samantha, and that hurt worse than anything. He would do everything he could to be sure she knew he loved her. At least he had Tyler and hopefully retained a successful business.
The next afternoon …..
Will and Genesis sat at one end of the table with Ryan. Maribel and her attorney sat at the other end. “I want a cut of the gym,” said Bel, her words scathing.
Ryan sighed. Here we go, he thought. “No,” he said, calmer than the felt. “What about child support then, but you will NOT get my business.”
“All the savings and child support,” growled Maribel.
“I’m already allowing you control of Sam’s trust which is getting ready to grow exponentially with her show. You aren’t leaving me anything.”
Her attorney whispered something to her. “How much child support?” she asked.
Ryan looked at Will. “Give her the savings,” whispered Will, “How much can you afford in child support? $1,500 a month?”
“I fucking hate her,” he whispered back.
Finally Ryan turned to Bel. “$1,500 a month in child support until Sam is 18 and then it ends. And the entire savings. That’s almost a million dollars.”
Maribel looked at her attorney and they whispered back and forth for a few more minutes. Finally he looked up. “Mrs. Redcliffe, write it up and my client will sign it,” he said.
Genesis stood up. “Perfect. It’ll take about 15 minutes to get the docs adjusted,” she said, “Excuse me.”
Ryan felt relieved, yet sick to his to his stomach. Thank god she didn’t take him to court. His business was intact and even though he was paying child support for a few years, and had no savings left, it was better than alimony for a lifetime. Still, he felt like he sold out Samantha. He glanced at the end of the table and she sat there looking smug. He couldn’t stomach it another minute. “I need some air,” he said, “I’ll be back.”
Will jumped up and followed him out. “Ryan,” he called out, “let’s go into my office. I’ll get you a drink.”
Ryan sighed and followed his cousin into his office. In the gym they had healthy choices to drink, but in a law office, he could see why they would have a different type of refreshments for their patrons.
Will popped open the Globe bar and Ryan laughed. “Did you steal that from your mom’s office? She has one just like it.”
“No, but I liked the idea,” said Will and handed him a drink. “So Ryan, I know you feel like you’ve been screwed over, but it was actually a very good deal. Now Maribel can’t keep coming back for more.” He held up his glass, “To a good deal.”
“I sold out Samantha,” said Ryan, and instead of clinking Will’s glass, he threw back a long drink relishing the burn as it went down.
“You didn’t have a choice,” said Will, “so don’t let it eat you up. Go see her as often as you can. Email her, Skype with her, text her. Ask her how the show is going, let her know what you’re doing, what trouble Ty got into. Keep it real and she’ll not think that.”
“Damn. Will, are you sure you just have a law degree? You should be a counselor. You and Gen need kids. You’d be a great father. I take that back. I thought I would be, and look at my fucked up life. Don’t listen to me.”
Will turned crimson. “Can you keep a secret?” he asked suddenly grinning.
“No fucking way,” said Ryan, realizing they were probably already pregnant.
“Yep, she’s 10 weeks, so we’re gonna wait 2 more weeks for the next appointment before we announce, but everything looks good.”
“Congratulations,” said Ryan and got emotional remembering the birth of his children. They were such happy times. And now look at him.
Will noticed his sudden discomfort. “Hey, I’m sorry. I guess I was a little insensitive.”
“Absolutely not,” said Ryan truthfully. “It’s awesome, and I’m truly happy for you two.”
“Thanks,” replied Will and sighed. “Gen’s probably done by now, let’s go get this shit over with.”
A few weeks later….
Cassie was trying to get Alex to calm down. Their parents called a family meeting and she ALWAYS thought the worst. Her sister insisted it had something to do with Uncle Ryan’s visit the other day because he looked so sad, even though Sam did get the Strangerville part. And anyway, last time it was about a vacation to Simsney World. So Cassie was sure it was going to be okay.
“Maybe we get to go to Del Sol Valley to watch them film,” said Cassie, excited at the prospect.
“Maybe,” said Alex, but Cassie could tell, her sister was not convinced at all.
“Or maybe Mom is going to have a baby,” suggested Cassie, “That would be super cool.”
“Nah. She’s too old,” said Alex wrinkling up her nose.
Cassie rolled her eyes. “Come on. Stop being a stupid idiot face and let’s go,” she said as she scooted off the bed and headed downstairs.
“I’m not a stupid idiot face!” called Alex trailing behind her.
“Caaaaasssie!” said Grayson as he came out of his room, “I’m telling Daddy you called Alex a stupid idiot!
“Noooo!” said Alex in defense of Cassie. “You were just teasing. Right Cassie?”
“Come on, twerp, I’m not telling,” laughed Grayson and tousled Alex’s hair, “Let’s go see what they want.”
When they walked into the living room, Alex turned to her sister and whispered, “See, it is bad. I told you so. Look, Mom’s upset.”
“Shhh,” said Cassie, knowing by the look on their parents faces, Alex was probably right.
“There you are,” said their father, “Sit down. Mom and I have some news to tell you guys.”
The three of them sat down without a word. Their dad looked at their mom and continued. “Your Uncle Ryan and Aunt Maribel are getting a divorce.”
“I knew it was bad,” mumbled Alex, “Why?”
“You knew what was bad?” asked her mother.
“The family meeting,” answered Cassie for her sister. She didn’t want Alex to get in trouble.
“Oh, sorry it was bad news,” replied her mother, “it’s very sad when a marriage doesn’t work out.”
“Will we ever get to see Uncle Ryan again, and Ty and Sam?” asked Alex, looking like she was going to cry.
“Of course. It’s just that Sam and her mother are going to stay in Del Sol Valley – because she got the part in the show,” explained their mom. “Ryan and Tyler are going to continue to live here, in Newcrest, in their home.”
“So Sam and Ty are kinda getting divorced too,” surmised Alex.
“I guess it sort of seems that way since they won’t be living together,” said Reagan, “but he’ll go see Sam and she’ll come visit from time to time. It’s not like they won’t see us anymore.”
“That’s why Uncle Ryan was sad the other day,” said Cassie, “I bet Ty’s sad too.” She looked at her sister. “You won’t ever get divorced, will you Daddy?” Cassie was near tears.
“Of course we’re not sweetie,” said Evan, “Your mother and I love each other, and all three of you too, very much. We just wanted you to know, because you’re right Cassie, Ty will probably be upset and Uncle Ryan is super sad about not being able to see Sam very much anymore.”
“Can I go now?” asked Grayson, who had been silently taking it all in.
“You okay Grayson?” asked Evan.
“No. Why would I be okay? This sucks. Can I go now?” he asked again.
Their mom looked sad. “Yes, you can all go,” she said softly. “We just wanted you to know what was going on, and not have to hear it from rumors at school. Try to be extra nice to Tyler. Samantha is his sister and Maribel his mother. Think how he must be feeling.”
Cassie followed Alex to their room, the news of the divorce weighing heavily on her mind. “Alex, I don’t ever want to get married, because if I do, it’ll be like divorcing you. We should just live together forever.”
“But don’t you want to get married like Mommy and Daddy?” asked Alex, “She was so pretty with the flowers in her hair. You used to like to put flowers in your hair and pretend you were getting married to Daddy and then move them to the other side after you said ‘I do’.”
“Ohh, I have an idea!” said Cassie, her dark mood suddenly lifting, “We can find someone that would marry both of us at the same time. Then we wouldn’t be apart. We’d all three be married.”
Alex gave her sister a big eye roll. “Cassie, we can’t marry the same person. I’m pretty sure there’s a law or something. But maybe we could find twins and marry them,” she offered up as a solution, “Then we could all still be together.”
Cassie clapped her hands at her sister’s idea and her eyes sparkled. “Ohh! That’s a better idea!”
Alex frowned. “I wonder if Ty will be coming over a bunch now?”
Cassie knew Alex was worried about their cousin. She was too. “You know, I really do feel bad for him. He almost doesn’t have a sister anymore. You know, he’s really good at video games, maybe we can play against him and Grayson and be his sisters.”
“That would be fun!” agreed Alex and hugged her sister.