The Stubborn Suitor

By: Alexa Wilder



“I’m providing for her just fine, no thanks to you!”

“Like I said, Cam, I was hoping to do this like civilized adults, but it is obvious that it’s not going to happen, so I’ll have my lawyer contact your lawyer. We’ll have a sit-down sometime next week. If it has to go before a judge, so be it. I will be getting custody of my daughter.”

Cami felt nauseated. Angry tears were sliding down her face, and she extended her hand to hold the phone away from her, so that Ken wouldn’t be able to hear her distress. She knew that if Ken insisted on taking this to court, he would most likely win. He had money. He had fancy lawyers. Cami didn’t even have a lawyer of her own. She could look up the lawyer she’d used during the divorce, but that idiot hadn’t been much help then and she couldn’t risk losing now.

Absentmindedly, Cami realized that Ken was still talking. She gently pushed the phone back against her ear.

“…that would be easiest. Just give me the name of your lawyer. I can have Gil get in touch with him directly, since you obviously can’t handle this yourself.” Cami cringed, both at the thought as well as the mention of Gil Dubois, Ken’s lawyer and an old friend of the family. He had been the one to make sure that Cami walked away from the divorce with absolutely nothing.

“I don’t have that information on me,” Cami replied, making sure her voice sounded even and calm, though she felt anything but. “I’ll have to get back to you with that.”

“That’s fine. I’ll get it from you when I pick up Madison this weekend.”

With that, Ken hung up. Cami appreciated that he hadn’t tried to say goodbye or feign any sort of niceties. He’d made his intentions clear. He wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

Cami stared down at her phone until the lock screen reappeared, along with the green-eyed, freckled face of Madison. No matter what, she couldn’t lose her daughter. She didn’t know how yet, but she would find a way to fight.





2





CAMI





For a long time after she hung up the phone, Cami sat in the courtyard staring off into space. The conversation with her ex-husband had caught her completely by surprise. She’d never once considered that Ken would one day decide that he wanted more custody of their daughter.

And, as infuriating as this truth was, if Ken really meant to fight her on this, he would probably win. He had the money and the connections to manipulate the legal system in his favor. Cami wasn’t even sure that she could afford a lawyer.

The most frustrating part of the situation was that Cami knew Ken didn’t really care about Madison—not the way that she did. He didn’t really care about anyone but himself. He was immature, irresponsible, and self-involved. He only ever saw Cami—and then Madison, once she was born—as possessions, trophies he could show off.

Ken had always been after Cami to lose weight, not because he didn’t like her body—she knew from experience that he loved her curves—but because he didn’t want people to see him with a “fat wife.” When he’d actually said those very words to Cami—during one of his many drunken stupors—she’d known it was time to leave.

Now he had Natalie, who really was the perfect trophy wife. She was beautiful and poised. She put up with his drinking and his partying, and had no desire for a career of her own. But that wasn’t enough for him. Nope. Now he wanted a perfect little family—and for that, he needed Madison.

Well, he couldn’t have Madison. Cami didn’t know how yet, but she would make sure of that. Cami was a great mother. She wasn’t confident about a lot of things, but this was one fact she knew about herself. She was great at taking care of Madison.

Yes, Cami worked full-time, but she left her daughter with her mother, so it wasn’t like the child was with a stranger for forty or fifty hours a week. She was with Grandma, who spoiled her rotten.

Cami couldn’t afford to give up her job. But more than that, she didn’t want to. She’d worked hard to get where she was and she was proud of her accomplishments. It was also a way for her to make sure that Madison would have everything she needed in life. Ken had, so far, not proven himself to be much of a provider.

And yet, he thought he could walk in now and demand more custody, just because he had the means to provide for Madison financially?

Cami could feel tears of frustration—and fear—sliding down her cheeks. She knew that she’d spent too much time out in the hospital courtyard, and her break was probably long over, but it was a while before she could pull herself off the bench and head inside. Only the thought of poor Ashley, probably starving and waiting for her turn to take a break, was what motivated her to finally rise from her position.

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