A Bride for AdamBy: Cyndi Raye
Book #2_ Sons of Nora White
“By the power vested in me by the State of Texas, I, Judge Ronald Hanover, now declare Mr. Thomas Cromwell, and wife, Melody Cromwell, standing before me under oath, divorced, by Texas State law.” The Judge glared at her, showing his disdain. His brows, thick and bushy, covered the space above his steel framed glasses like a strait line across his brow. “According to the Married Woman’s Property Act of 1848 you would be entitled to property if you had any. Since there is none listed here, you are not entitled to any such property in this case.”
She stood tall and straight, her shoulders back. Melody was no longer ashamed, although they expected her to be. She was fighting for her life and her son. She didn’t dare look around the courtroom because she knew what was there. More disdain and hurtful looks and stares. A woman didn’t ask for a divorce in today’s society.
“Judge Hanover, sir?”
His frown didn’t make her twitch. She vowed to be brave and strong for her sons sake as well as her own.
“What is it?”
“With the courts permission, I would like to ask for sole custody of my son, Tommy.” The room stilled. Gloved hands of ladies present in the courtroom flew to their mouths to cover the gasps that represented the negativity in the room. Melody wanted to curl up and hide but held her head high instead. She would not go any lower than she already felt.
Melody didn’t turn her head, she stared directly in front of her where Judge Hanover sat on his seat at the helm of the courtroom. Her husband stood to the right with his lawyers. She felt his eyes on her and tried not to wince.
She would not look at him.
She would not show an ounce of fear. Everything was riding on her ability to be a strong, independent woman.
“Let me ask you one question, Mrs. Cromwell, excuse me, Miss Rivers. Now that I officially granted your divorce, we no longer affiliate you with the name Cromwell, a highly respected name in this city.”
Melody didn’t take the bait. Even the Judge wanted her to fall apart. She would not. “Sir, I will answer any question concerning custody of my son, Tommy.”
He nodded, the frown still apparently permanently attached to his face. “How do you plan to support this child, Miss Rivers?”
“I plan to continue to work at my job at Miss Jones Boarding House.”
He slowly nodded, raised an eyebrow then turned to speak to Thomas. “Mr. Cromwell, you are a fine, upstanding citizen of Dallas. Are you willing to give custody of your child solely to Miss Rivers?” A few laughs and snickers were heard in some of the pews behind Melody. No man would ever give up custody of their own children. It was unheard of.
Melody didn’t realize she had been holding her breath. Tommy was in the Judge’s chambers with one of the employees while the trial went on. At least he wasn’t privy to all the stares and harsh words and whispers. She clutched her hands together at first, lowering them when she realized how it made her look. She didn’t want anyone to see how they shook.
When she realized Thomas was directing his words towards her, she moved her head at a slight angle to peer at him. Her eyes widened in shock at his next words. “Your Honor, I didn’t want to bring this up, because it hurts me to paint such a horrid picture of this woman who had me fooled for the last five years.”
Melody gasped. How dare he? He was the one who cheated on her and now he was calling her horrid? She was ready to speak up when the next words came tumbling from Thomas’s mouth. “I have reason to believe the child is not mine. Therefore, I am not entitled to custody of the child or honored to pay for anything further for her son.”
He had just told the world his son was not fathered by him!
He had just called her a whore!
In front of the whole courtroom and the Honourable Judge. Melody slumped to her seat. “How can you deny your son?” she whispered, unable to retaliate. She was shocked he had said such a horrible thing.
The Judge stared at Thomas. “Go on, answer, sir, how can you deny the boy? What evidence do you have to say he is not yours?”
Immediately, Thomas’s lawyer hurried to the bench, handing over several documents.