What is Mine
~ Twenty-Five ~


It had been a night of desperation, half of which had been spent retching into her bathroom toilet. The other half had found Cassie creating reasons to enter Robby's bedroom and touch the sleeping child.

But by the time the eight a.m. deadline rolled around, Cassie Whelan felt strangely calm and unruffled. She did not believe that the stranger could truly want the best for Robby and still tear him away from all that he knew.

‘The stranger'. It was the only way that Cassie could think of him. To call him Robby's father was to make the entire pending nightmare a reality.

At exactly eight a.m., Cassie opened the front door to two solemn looking strangers: a refined, green-eyed gentleman dressed all in black and a young African American man who stood slightly behind him. “Come in,” she invited somberly.

The two men followed Cassie into the living room where all Robby's toys remained strewn. The room was like an ad from one of the parenting magazines – inviting, comfortable, secure. “This is Robby's favorite room in the house,” she murmured, smiling. Slowly she twirled, drawing the two men's attention to the assortment of framed family photographs arranged all about the room.

“And this is his favorite toy.” Cassie picked up a plastic figure of a black stallion.

Any reaction she had hoped to generate from the two men was not evident in their demeanor. The green-eyed stranger fixed an unblinking gaze upon her, while his muscular associate stared impassively at Cassie's husband.

“If you will go and retrieve my son, we will depart.” Stefan's voice was even, but there was no mistaking that the words were a command, not a suggestion.

Instantly Cassie understood what Jack had attempted to convey about the stranger who was Robby's biological father. He had made a decision to regain custody of the little boy and nothing Cassie or Jack might say would be enough to alter that.

“Very well,” Cassie agreed. “I will go and get him.”

Perhaps the stranger could remain immune to her distress, Cassie thought. But she doubted that he would be as unmoved by the sight of Robby's frantic cries as they attempted to tear him away from his mother.

In fact, she was counting on that.