Mr. Hale was there, wiping the sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief that he always carried. He made eye contact with Daniella and smirked as if to indicate that he was happy to be there to witness the downfall of the whole family. She knew that in his mind, Ross was the victim here, and his ungrateful children were to blame.
Carl was there alone, in the back of the courtroom, looking smug and staring at Daniella with hatred in his eyes. Uncle Sheldon caught sight of this and whispered to Daniella, “That boy’s got fire in his eyes! What’s that all about?”
Daniella replied, “That’s what I’d like to know.”
Just when the proceedings were about to begin, Daniella saw someone that she didn’t expect—Lizzie was there, and when she saw Daniella looking at her, she looked really nervous. There wasn’t time to deal with this now, as the bailiff announced the arrival of the judge. Daniella was behind Leo and his attorney, Mr. Hillard.
Leo turned around to look at Daniella. He looked so worried, and as Daniella looked into his eyes, she saw the little boy she used to know. Her mind wandered to a night in their childhood when it was just the three of them, Ross, Leo, and Daniella, and it was about time to go to bed on a school night. Suddenly, Ross knocked on Leo’s door, then Daniella’s, to announce that they needed to get ready to go to town and see a movie.
Daniella replied, “But isn’t it about time to go to bed?”
Ross scoffed and answered, “I swear girl, you are no child. You think like an old woman sometimes. Come on Grandma! Get ready.” Leo cheered with happiness.
As they were in the car, driving to town, Daniella felt very resentful of the fact that she may not be alert at school the next day. She’d always taken her schoolwork seriously, and didn’t appreciate the interruption of her program. Leo felt differently. He loved it. He looked admiringly at Ross as he drove and said, “Danny don’t understand Daddy. I love going to a movie late at night! We ain’t always gotta worry about school.”
Daniella rolled her eyes and snapped back, “Danny doesn’t understand! And there’s no such word as ‘ain’t’. See, that’s why you need school, Moron!”
Ross and Leo laughed at her, and she could see the strong bond between them getting more powerful. She rolled her eyes and muttered, “Peas in a pod.”
Daniella snapped out of her memory to pay attention to the Bailiff. He loudly commanded, “All rise!” Everyone stood up as the judge entered. The honorable Judge Bueford Belham was assigned to preside over the case. He was tough and had a reputation for being especially hard on those would commit “hate crimes.”
“All rise as the honorable Judge Bueford Belham takes the stand!”
Everyone stood up. The judge sat down behind the desk and said, “Be seated.”
After everyone had sat down, the judge looked around the room with a very serious face and remarked, “I want it to be known that I expect order in my courtroom, and if any of the spectators or the press get out of line, I’ll have them barred from these proceedings.” He looked around to be sure that his message was received loud and clear, and then proceeded.
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