Rio clasped and unclasped his hands, his jaw working nervously. "She hasn't called," he said, his voice full of agitation and disappointment.
Rio rolled his eyes, burying his head in his hands. "You don't know that," he said gruffly. "What if she doesn't show?"
That was exactly Johnny's fear, too. He reached out and cuffed Rio's leg. "Come on? Not show up for Shayla's mediation hearing before the trial? She'll show."
"Yeah, because she's been such a stable influence in our lives!" Rio said bitterly, clenching his hands into fists.
She was running late because she'd been fussing with her appearance. She'd raided the back of her mother's closet, finding a few things that she'd worn during Eva's political career. She'd also swept her hair up into a professional bun. She wanted to appear proper and dignified.
Johnny stood up and squeezed her hand. "You look great."
Haley gave a small smile, reaching up to run her hand over his buzzed hairline. "You cut it off," she said, slightly sad. "I liked your hair like that."
Johnny smiled crookedly. "I can always grow it back."
Shaye and Kelli shook their heads. "I just want to get this over with," Shaye said.
Shaye swallowed nervously and glanced at Kelli. How the hell had this gotten so out of hand? He was in the middle of a mediation meeting about to fight Rachel for custody...
"Hey squirt!" Johnny said.
At the sound of his voice, Rose's head shot up and her frown turned into a beaming smile.
Johnny smiled fondly at his kid sister. "I haven't seen you since you were about this big," he said, gesturing to his hip. "Looks like you haven't grown that much."
Rose playfully glared at him. "I'm not that short!" she grumbled.
"Haley," he said in greeting, nodding his head.
Haley smiled wanly, prepared to say hello. But his attorney leaned over, whispering something to him. His gaze immediately returned to the table.
Rayne fiddled with her watch. "It will look very bad for your client if we are forced to reschedule this mediation," she warned. "We'll wait another few minutes."
Rose twisted in her seat, a smile plastered on her face. "Good! You're here!" she said, "Come, have a seat." She stared a moment longer at the man standing beside here.
"I don't want her here," Rachel said stubbornly. "She's not family."
Rayne Davies raised an perfectly manicured eyebrow. "If you're quite finished with your version of musical chairs..."
"Sorry we were running late," he said glibly. "I had a business call I had to address."
Rose's jaw clenched and she turned to face her sister. "What changes?" she asked, nearly growling. Really, what was Rachel trying to pull her?
Rachel glanced across the table at Shaye and smiled. "I'm actually going to be moving to Monte Vista.."
All hell broke loose. Shaye stood up and slammed his hands on the table. "You're not taking her out of the country!" he said angrily. Kelli reached up and tried to pull him back to his chair.
"This is really very unprofessional," Rayne said, speaking over her client. "We've had these details worked out for weeks. To make a change like this at the last minute underscores Mr. Albright's claim that Miss Vasquez is unreliable and unfit as a parent!"
Rose was about to reply when Rachel spoke up again. "In light of this, I'd like to sign over full custody to Shaye," she announced.
"Miss Vasquez, a moment please," Rose said, standing up and grabbing her sister's arm and dragging her a few feet away.
"No. That's not all! Why? Why are you doing this? And who is that man? I'm half-inclined to say you're suffering from a mental episode and have you committed!" Rose snapped.
Rachel put her hand on her hip. "It's my life and my choice," she said forcefully. "You wouldn't understand! You're not a mother!"
Rose walked back to the table with a sick feeling in her stomach. Mother or not, she didn't understand.
"Oh, for Christ's sake," Johnny muttered darkly.
"She's given up custody. She's moving to Monte Vista," Johnny snapped angrily. "Who is that guy?"
"Mr. Logan, her boss," she answered automatically. "Wait, what do you mean she's giving up custody?" she asked in a rush. "She's moving? Out of country? What's going on?!" She grabbed his arm and tugged on it.
Johnny swiped his hand across his face. "Christ, she's leaving."
"Isn't this touching?" Rachel said caustically, leaning against the entrance to the conference room. "The two lovers can't keep their hands off each other."
"They'll get over it!" Rachel said, bitterly adding, "It's not like they consider me their mother anyways. There was always someone else trying to play that role!"
Rachel smiled. He was right. She was moving on to bigger and better things. She flicked her hand in farewell. They'd never understood her anyways.
*AN - I can already hear everybody yelling at Rachel behind their computer screen. :) It's no wonder that Haley slapped her!