[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] It was Tuesday morning in the middle of April. The birds were singing, the grass was starting to show promise that it would eventually require mowing again. And Nathalie Toussignant had to be shaken awake. Marc had given her sleeping pills around 11 o’clock the night before and she was dead to the world. Whoops, wrong metaphor, Marc thought.

Sylvie, that life-saving friend of theirs, had kept the kids overnight and would continue to look after them until the courtroom ordeal was over. The kids were having a blast, staying with their friends and camping out in their basement, so they didn’t mind. Nathalie missed her babies like crazy, but she was smart enough to know that she didn’t have the energy to be a half-decent mom right at the moment. She would have to make it up to Sylvie somehow.

“Come on, honey, it’s time to get up. Your brother is testifying today. I know you don’t want to miss it. Please, get up.”

“Gmmmgn,” she answered. It sounded better in her head, but not by much.

It took Marc a solid half hour to get his beloved upright, showered and dressed. Now he had to feed her half a piece of toast with some coffee. He put cream and sugar in her coffee and she objected.

“I drink my coffee black!”

“I know, baby, but you need nutrients to sustain you for the day. I figured you wouldn’t be very hungry,” she made a face at that. Hell no, she wasn’t hungry. Hadn’t been for days and probably never would be again, or so it felt at the moment. She hadn’t weighed herself but she could tell her clothes were starting to feel a bit loose. Whatever else this trial did, it was awesome for her waistline. But Marc worried about her. He knew she’d need strength today, and he was determined to help her get it in any way that he could.

“I figured adding cream and sugar to your coffee would add calories to your day. And you need your calories today, my love,” he added with a smile.

“You know what I really need? I need this trial to be over. I knew it was going to be hard, but I never expected it would be this heart-wrenching.” Tears welled up in her eyes again.

“I know. You want to know what I was thinking about last night when you finally got to sleep?”

“What?”

“That after this is over, we should arrange to send you and Sylvie together for a weekend somewhere. I’ll look after the kids and you girls can have nice-looking dudes put hot stones on your back or mud on your face or whatever the heck women get done to their bodies when they go to the spa. As long as the dudes are gay, I won’t mind.”

“Oh, Marc, really?”

“Really. I got some overtime pay that came in before this trial started and I kept it in the bank account, just in case we needed some extra cash… Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to spend it?”

“You know when I said in court that you were the best thing that ever happened to me?”

“I vaguely recall something to that effect, yes.”

“I wasn’t lying. You are amazing. Thank you.”

“No, honey bunch,” he said, hugging her gently. “You’re the amazing one. You were always the strongest of us all. Now let’s go finish this thing.”

[next chapter]