"So the odds are against you guys." Caitlyn frowned as she flipped through the papers sitting on the kitchen table before her.
"I don't understand." Finn reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "He put her in the hospital. She could have died if we didn't get her to the ER."
"I know." Caitlyn nodded. "But he's a teenager with no history. He is a well-known athlete in the community. His parents have many connections. It's not that he's not going to be punished, but we're really just looking at probation and community service."
Rachel shifted in her chair. "He's been abusing her for months. There is clearly something off there. Because he's an athlete and has never been caught in his wrongdoings he just gets away with this?"
"We all know he is violent and has been abusing Lily, but we have to prove that. Right now our only evidence is documentation of a couple of old injuries which could easily be twisted."
"And his threat Monday means nothing without video footage?" Finn asked. They'd reached out to the school to find out if Joey's confrontation had been caught on the security cameras, but they didn't capture that part of the parking lot. "Our son's friend saw part of it."
"It's something, but again that could easily turn into a 'he said she said'."
Rachel closed her eyes for a moment. All of this was overwhelming. "So are we supposed to just let him get off easy and wait around till he attacks her again? Because I know first hand how that works."
Caitlyn shook her head. "No. I'm not giving up on this and I'm not asking you guys to either. I'm just laying out the obstacles here. We need more solid evidence."
Finn let out a long breath as he glanced at his wife whose face was ridden with anxiety. "I mean isn't that your job?"
"Finn." Rachel scolded gently. She understood his frustrations more than anyone and she knew he didn't mean to be rude but it could easily be perceived that way.
"Look I'm sorry if I'm questioning your abilities here, but we're paying a lot of money, which is fine, but I need my daughter to be protected here. I mean we could be talking about life or death here." He regretted his words when he saw Rachel's eyes widen as she inhaled sharply. They both knew the possibilities- Joey nearly killed her with his latest assault- but saying it out loud made it all too real.
"No, I understand completely. And again, I'm not saying we're not going to fight this. I just want to be honest about the obstacles in our way. And believe me, I will do my digging on not only Joey but his parents too. But I think it's important that you talk to Lily about any evidence she may have."
"Okay." Rachel nodded and dread sunk in her stomach at that looming conversation. They were trying to keep Lily out of the legal discussions for the time being but that time seemed to have expired. "Thank you for meeting us last minute."
"Of course." Caitlyn nodded with a smile as she gathered her papers, slipped them into her folder, and tucked the folder into her briefcase. "We'll be in touch. I promise you I will start my digging as soon as I get back to the office and I promise you we're not going down without a fight. Try to enjoy your holiday."
"Thanks, you as well." Rachel returned the smile and she led the tall blonde to the front door.
"Should we get a second opinion?" Finn asked a few moments after Caitlyn disappeared through the front door.
"Finn, she's supposed to be one of the best lawyers in New York." Rachel sighed. "She's just not sugar coating anything, which sucks but we need to know. We can talk to my dads about it when they get in, but I think we're in for a long fight."
Finn walked over to Rachel and wrapped his arms around her. He pressed a kiss to the top of her hand, inhaling the sweet scent of her vanilla shampoo. "We'll find a way. Whatever it takes, we'll make sure she's safe."
"We better. I've been through a lot of bad things in my life and I've managed to get past them, but if anything happens to her…" Rachel's voice cracked as it trailed off. She couldn't even articulate the possibilities.
Finn rubbed her arm gently. "That's not going to happen."
Rachel took a deep breath, inhaling Finn's woodsy scent. "Well, I guess we'll talk with her when she gets home from school. Until then, I'm going to start cooking."
"Are you sure you feel up to it? Is it a good idea for you to be on your feet for so long?"
"I'll be fine. I think the distraction is better than sitting around worrying." Rachel said before a smirk found her lips. "Besides, do you remember what happened the last time I left Thanksgiving dinner in your hands?"
Finn couldn't help the chuckle that left his lips as he recalled the very Thanksgiving his wife was referring to. It was ten years ago that Finn brought the flu home from work a little over a week away from Thanksgiving. Rachel, Liam, and Lily all caught it a few days before Thanksgiving. Rachel and Finn normally hosted Thanksgiving every year with both their parents, Kurt and Blaine, and whichever of their friends who didn't have plans that year. With Rachel normally doing the majority of the cooking and the desire to not spread the illness to everyone else, they had to cancel that year and decided they would have their own small, relaxed Thanksgiving. By the time Thanksgiving had rolled around, Rachel was feeling better, but not one hundred percent and so Finn insisted on doing the cooking that year. But it resulted in chaos in the kitchen. He overstuffed the turkey, causing it to explode in the oven. While he attempted to fix that error, he forgot about the green bean casserole, letting it burn to crisps in the oven. Then he proceeded to drop an entire tray of stuffing. Rachel had heard much commotion but didn't want to intervene on Finn's attempt at Thanksgiving until she heard the crash of glass shattering. She would never forget the moment she walked into the kitchen, which had looked like a Thanksgiving feast had exploded on every inch of the kitchen.
"Yeah, not my best moment." A lopsided grin found Finn's face and it made Rachel's heart flutter as it did every time.
"It was, though. It was you being the amazing man that you are. Even if the results weren't that successful." Rachel reached up to plant her smile on his lips. "But moments like that make the best memories."
Finn's grin widened as he followed his wife into the kitchen.
Rachel knocked on the door and waited for the invitation to enter before she opened it. A warm smile found her lips as she locked eyes with her daughter who sat on her bed with her laptop. "Hey, how was school?"
Lily shrugged. "I'm grateful for the break."
Rachel frowned. "People are still bothering you?"
"Everyone believes a different story but they all end in me being a crazy slut." Lily sighed in frustration before closing her eyes for a moment. "It's not that bad, I guess. It's just that it's piled on to everything else."
"Don't downplay it." Rachel said as she took a seat on the edge of Lily's bed facing her. "I know what it's like to deal with that. It's not fun and it's not okay what they're doing. I'm not going to do anything you're not comfortable with, unless it starts to get out of hand, so if you want me to talk to someone at the school, let me know."
Lily grimaced slightly as she shook her head. "No. I'm hoping it'll just phase its way out."
Rachel reached out to gently rub Lily's arm. "Thanksgiving break is the perfect time for everyone to forget about it and find something else to gossip about."
Lily closed her laptop and slid it towards the end of the bed. She hoped her mother was right. "Hopefully."
"So we talked with the lawyer earlier today…" Rachel began after a moment, noting the way Lily's body stiffened. "And she wants to know if there's any kind of evidence you have against Joey. You know, besides the hospital records. She's just looking for anything to add to the case."
Lily nibbled on her lower lip as she shrugged slightly. "I don't know. I mean...I guess maybe the text messages between us?"
Rachel's eyebrows rose. "You have all the texts between you guys?"
"And there's evidence of his behavior in those messages?"
"Maybe." Lily met her mother's eyes hesitantly. "I have to share my messages with everyone now?"
"My love, I so wish you didn't have to, but those messages could help get you justice. It only has to be Caitlyn looking through all of them and she'll weed through the ones that could be used as evidence." Rachel explained, placing a hand on Lily's knee. "Anything else that you have?"
"I don't think so." She whispered before pausing for a moment. "Is he trying to get out of this?"
"We're not going to let him. He's not going to get away with this." Rachel tried to reassure.
Lily inhaled deeply in an attempt to ease the anxiety torturing her stomach. "Mom, his family always gets away with things. They have a ton of connections and pay everyone off."
"Well, they've messed with the wrong people now because I am not letting him get away with this." Rachel said. "Caitlyn is one of the best lawyers and she's doing her digging. Has he had other girlfriends before you?"
Lily nodded. "Nothing serious. Mostly just hookups. I guess he really only had one other girlfriend. She moved."
"She moved?" Rachel cocked an eyebrow.
"Yeah." Lily nodded again. "He told me she cheated on him, but I'm starting to believe it was a lie. He would use it as an excuse for his jealousy."
Rachel's stomach twisted. "I'll let Caitlyn know. If we get more than one person accusing him that could probably seal it."
"So I have to hope he hurt other girls?"
"No." Rachel frowned. "But it's possible he did and I'm sure they'd like justice just as much as you."
Lily was quiet for a moment before she met her mother's eyes. "How did you get past all of what you went through?"
Rachel let out a breath. "It was a long process. There are still times that I struggle. But I was lucky enough to have a great support system. My dads, your dad, my friends."
"I just...I feel so broken and like I'm always going to be like this and what I went through was nothing compared to what you went through."
"Don't do that. Don't compare." Rachel scolded gently. "Abuse, violence, and assault are all traumatizing no matter what. And you can't compare traumas."
"It just feels like this is never going away." Lily whispered.
"Did I ever tell you that I tried to kill myself once?"
Lily's eyebrows knitted together as she shook her head. "No."
"It was right after I was raped the first time. I had just gotten home from the hospital and I felt so incredibly hopeless. I wanted the pain to stop. Grandpa and Papa were downstairs and I went into the bathroom, took a razor, and sliced my arm open. The emotional pain was so bad that I didn't even feel the pain of the razor. I just kept pushing it further and further and eventually passed out. Grandpa and Papa found me and called 911. I was fine obviously, physically anyway. But I didn't even regret it at first. In fact, I was upset that my dads found me." Rachel explained. "It wasn't until I found out I was pregnant that the thought of killing myself went away. It wasn't just me anymore."
"Are you still upset? That your dads found you?" Lily asked curiously.
"God no." Rachel shook her head quickly. "I couldn't be more grateful that they did. I love my life with your dad and your brother and you."
"Even if you knew what was going to happen in a couple of years?"
Rachel frowned at Lily's suggestion. "Lily, what happened in that cabin was awful. It was the worst moment of my life. But I wouldn't change it because it brought me you. In fact, if it meant having you, I'd go through it all over again."
"It's a mother's love. There's no other love that compares to it. You'll see one day." Rachel scooted back on Lily's bed and held her arms open, inviting her daughter over. Lily shifted back and snuggled against her mother's side as Rachel's arms wrapped around her. "Do I wish I would have had you without going through what I did, of course? But if I had to choose, I'd choose you every single time. Same with your brother. The two of you bring me so much love and joy."
Lily looked up at her mother and smiled slightly.
"Anyway, the reason I told you this story was because I know what it's like to hit rock bottom. And when I was at rock bottom, I wish I had someone to tell me how happy I would be in the future. Someone to tell me that rock bottom is not forever and that there is hope, there is happiness."
"I just wish I could go back and said no when he asked me out."
Rachel smiled sadly. "I know the feeling. But you don't know what would have happened if you did. He could have taken the rejection badly or not given up. You just don't know. And there was no way to tell back then that he was this person."
"Do you think I'm dumb for letting it get this far? For not leaving him when he started hurting me?"
"Not at all." Rachel shook her head, horrified that those thoughts were taunting her daughter. "You never know what you would do until you're in the actual moment. And people like Joey are extremely manipulative."
"I was scared too. That's why I didn't come to you." Lily admitted. "Once I knew what he was doing, I wanted to tell you. But he had all these threats that I didn't doubt. And if I tried to break up with him, he just wouldn't allow it and would get worse."
"I love that you're talking, but don't feel like you need to justify your actions. I know you were terrified and I'm sorry you had to deal with that. But I'm glad that you're out of that relationship now and you will get your justice." Rachel planted a soft kiss on Lily's forehead.
"I love you, Mom." Lily whispered, cherishing the feeling of the safeness of her mother's arms embracing her.
Rachel's heart swelled as she squeezed the teenager gently, pressing another ginger kiss to her hairline. She wished she could hold her forever, shielding her from the suffering. "I love you too. So, so much."
Thanks for reading! Sorry for the longer than intended delay. Unfortunately, I had to put my dog to sleep a month ago and was dealing with that. She was almost nineteen, but it still didn't feel like enough time. Anyway, here's an update. Hope you enjoyed! Planning on having the next chapter out within a week or two!