For Better or Worse (Chapter Five, page 1 of 1)


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The next week they got the restraining order, but as Carmen witnessed one day on her way home, it didn’t stop Lori. As Alex had said, though, it gave them a legal right to keep her at bay.
Carmen saw Alex’s truck parked in the drive of an old vacant house where she had admired some healthy quince bushes. She pulled in behind his truck and took Destiny out of the car. Alex was leaning on a shovel, watching her when she joined him.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“Digging up some of these quince bushes.”
“You finally got in contact with the owner?”
He grinned. “I should hope to smile,” he said with a contrived southern accent. “I paid him for three bushes.” His gaze dropped to the trench he had dug around the bush. I’m starting to wish I had only bought one.”
“Here, let me spell you. And one would be fine with me. I just wanted some in my hedge row. I think it will propagate.”
“Probably, but you’d have to wait for this one to get established and then a long time for the others to mature. I can do it.” He began digging again.
“Do you have another shovel?”
He paused, looking hesitantly at his truck. “Yeah, but I can do this.”
“So can I, and I’m the one who wants them.” She headed for the truck. “Besides,” she tossed over her shoulder with a grin, “Two little people can work faster than one big one.”
He dropped the shovel and darted for her playfully. She squealed and whirled to run. Destiny, giggling and ran at her side, caught up in the fun. Alex caught Carmen and they both tumbled to the soft grass. Instantly he was on top of her, holding her hands down.
“Tickle her Destiny!” he said.

Destiny climbed aboard and straddled her. Destiny’s little fingers wiggled on Carmen’s ribs and she laughed. Destiny squealed with delight and did it again.
“How touching,” a voice said sarcastically and they all glanced up to find Lori standing over them, hands on hips. “When you’re done frolicking, I need Alex to sign this.” She shoved a paper in front of his face.
Alex sobered and stood, brushing his clothes off. He took the paper. “What’s this?” He asked, and started reading. He glanced up at her. “Lori, we had nothing to do with the making of the will. Carmen didn’t even know it existed.”
“I know that, but I’m still entitled to something,” Lori said. “Josh just wanted to humiliate me by giving it to Carmen.”
Alex glanced at Carmen. “I don’t think he meant it that way, Lori.” His gaze shifted back to Lori. “I think he simply wanted his daughter to have everything if something happened to him. You said he knew you planned to leave after the baby was born. How could he know he would die so soon? He was probably thinking years ahead and wanted Carmen to handle it in event of his death.”
“Then he would have appointed her executor or something.”
Alex shrugged. “I can’t say what was on his mind any more than you can. All I know is that Carmen had nothing to do with this. She is acting responsibly in his behalf.”
“And I’m not.” The last word was upturned, as if it were a question.
Alex dropped his mind reading gaze on her.
“Are you?”
For a moment Carmen thought Lori was going to cry. Finally, without a word, she turned and stalked away.
Carmen glanced at the letter. “I guess I figured it would come to this. If not to get the money and farm, then simply to make sure I didn’t enjoy them.” She sighed. “Let the courts decide. I don’t really care. We’ll take care of Destiny.”
Alex put an arm around her shoulders. “That’s my girl.”
They heard no more from Lori. It was hard to tell whether she would go through with contesting the will, or if she even could after so long. The important thing was that they displayed a united front. The frolicking hadn’t been planned, but if the look on Lori’s face was any indication, she got the picture. They were happy with each other, and whatever Destiny might have been born, she was a Barnett now.

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