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Mel couldn’t believe what Chris Hobbs had just admitted. “And that’s when you devised a plan to make that happen.” A statement of fact, not a question.


“So now we are up to prom night. Your honor, here are the affidavits that we need to enter into evidence. They are from Allison McAvoy-Calloway, who was Chris Hobbs girlfriend at the time; Yuri Marlow, who reminded Chris about the Senior Baseball game which was the afternoon of the prom, and lastly, from Tim Rollins, who was the friend who drove Chris Hobbs vehicle to the crime scene. Mr. Palmer has already been given copies of these statements as well. So Chris, bypassing Allison’s statement but focusing on Yuri’s for the moment, why did you speak so blatantly about harming Justin in front of them?”

“I thought I could trust my teammates. More fool me, huh?”

“Not necessarily, since they were your friends. But there is such a thing as being called an accessory, both before and after the fact. Yuri Marlow was in the untenable situation of being an accessory before the fact and could’ve done jail time. But that’s neither here nor there right now. What the court would like to know is what did you hope to accomplish by making these plans?”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Well, you first suggested going after Justin with a crowbar. Do you know what that would have done?”

“It would have hurt him.”

“No, Chris. It would have killed Justin instantly judging by the amount of force you used with a bat. Had that bat been the most popular brand of Louisville Slugger, which is aluminum, it would have had the same effect as the crowbar. However, you used a Louisville Slugger wooden bat, which lessened the mortality rate, but still would have been lethal if you had hit Justin where you intended, which was in the back of the head. Your honor, please direct your attention to the medical report from Dr. Harris Mueller. He included a fact finding and statistic sheet which corroborates all I have just explained to Chris Hobbs. Now Mr. Hobbs, according to Yuri Marlow, both the Louisville Aluminum and Louisville Wood were available. What made you pick the wood over the aluminum?” Mel almost smiled at the small bead of sweat which surfaced on the side of the young man’s head. Gotcha, you fucking little bastard!

“After the whole talk about how easy it would be to lift prints off of a crowbar, I figured the same theory would apply to aluminum.”

“So basically, you thought about which would give you the desired effect, but would also be harder to prove that you swung it yourself?”

“Shut the hell up, Chris! Your honor, can’t you see what this woman is doing to my son?!” Clara screeched. “She’s railroading him!”

“No. She’s questioning him and his motives like a good attorney should. Now Ma’am, I realize that this must be hard on you, so I’m going to let you off with a warning… this time. There won’t be another one. Mr. Hobbs, please answer the question.”

“I guess maybe subconsciously I did. I’m not known for critical thinking.”

“I beg to differ, Chris. Isn’t it true that most of the torment you inflicted on Justin during the year was thought up by you and Mr. Kevin Dixon during off-school hours? And isn’t it true that although Dixon provided you with the means, that it was you who thought to burn the contents of Justin’s school locker?”

“We were just talking trash…”

“Trash that became a very real part of reality, correct? So again, I ask just to clarify, did you pick the wood bat for the aforementioned reason?”

“Yes,” he stated weakly.

“Thank you for your honesty. So going ahead in the timeline, you had ample time to change your course of action. Why didn’t you?”

“Again, I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Isn’t it true that you threatened Justin Taylor the week before, telling him that if he showed up to prom he would be sorry?”

“Look lady, I don’t know where you got that from but…”

“Your honor, please note the highlighted section of Allison McAvoy-Calloway’s statement. With you permission, I would like for the defendant to read said statement aloud for the court to hear.”

“You have it,” Judge Lano said while she perused the section Melanie noted.

“Mr. Hobbs, please read Allison’s words for us.”

Chris narrowed his eyes at her, already thinking of ways to get back at the bitch putting all of his secrets on display before he cleared his throat harshly and began to read. “It was during the second of our mandated graduation rehearsals when Chris had cornered Justin. Several of us, including Daphne Chanders and September Wallace were gathered at the back of the line waiting for Justin’s and September’s section to be called to see where their assigned seats would be for the ceremony. At the time, none of us knew just where we stood within the class ranking since our scores from finals hadn’t been factored into our GPAs as of yet. We were actually talking about the prom and post-graduation plans when Chris came upon us and told Justin that if he knew what was good for him, he would stay home and butt-fuck his fuckbuddy into a coma before he himself ended up in one. Of course Daphne jumped to Justin’s defense right away, as had September. For my part, I was stunned silent and wondering what the hell Chris was playing at. Sadly, Justin didn’t stay home that night, and Chris made good on his threat.”

“No further questions your honor, but reserve the right to recall should the need arise,” Melanie said and made her way back to her seat.

“Your honor, may I request a short recess to confer with my clients?” Dale asked. He was clearly angry at all the new revelations coming out regarding his clients that he had no knowledge of.

“Certainly, Mr. Palmer. I would imagine that you have some questions of your own at this point. Recess for an hour.”

As soon as the judge was off the bench and out of earshot, the voices in the defendants corner were raised. Shavonne walked over to them, speaking in a low tight voice to the attorney who was supposed to be in charge. “Dale, you might want to take this to a more secure and private location.”

“Who the hell are you and what business is it of yours?” Clara haughtily huffed and folded her arms.

“Mrs Hobbs, I am the acting District Attorney and the woman who is going to try your husband’s co-conspirators. But right now, I’m just one law professional extending a courtesy to another, so do yourself a favor and shut what they call the fuck up.” Shavonne took a deep breath before turning to Dale again. “Dale, again, you might want to herd your riffraff into the conference room to berate them for their lack of forthrightness. I personally don’t give a care, because anything you all are saying over her can and will be used to help my cases against Stockwell and Russo. However, I do pride myself of being fair and fair-minded, so I’ll remind you again that this room has round the clock surveillance. Take that information however you want to.”

Understanding dawned in the defense attorney’s eyes as the Hobbs family still stood there, huffing and puffing ready to blow the metaphorical house down. Shavonne almost snickered aloud at the “Three Little Pigs” reference since it seemed very relevant to the well-dressed wolves she was still staring down. “I thank you for your wise counsel, Ms. Fuller. I believe we will adjourn to a more secluded location for the interim.” He hastily shepherded the family out of the courtroom to resume their very public argument.

“Is it just me, or has the air quality within the room just gotten better?” Emmett asked.

“Yeah, they do tend to suck all of the air out of it, don’t they?” Ted responded, rejoining the group.

“And just where were you and the Big Bad during such riveting testimony, Teddy?”

“Riveting? What did I miss?”

“Oh, nothing except Chris Hobbs admitting that he wanted both Brian and Justin, and that if he couldn’t have either of them, then they shouldn’t have each other. Nope, not much at all!”

“WHAT?! Tell me I just did not hear that!” Brian roared. He had just come back in and was heading over to Mel when he’d heard Emmett’s words.

“I wish I could, Brian, but there it is,” Justin said quietly. “It’s funny. You said he was jealous of me, but you had the reason all wrong.”

“No, Justin. Brian had the reason right; he just didn’t know the other part of it,” Mel placed a hand on the tense shoulders of the younger man. “Brian, Chris wanted Justin, and yes he envied him because of this bravery to do what he wanted despite what their ‘world’ told them to do. But he was also envious because Justin had you.”

“What the actual fuck?! This guy is like Michael and Lindsay rolled into one!”

“What do you mean?” Shavonne asked.

Justin chuckled in spite of himself. “Michael was afraid to live his life and instead merely exists in his jealousy that I do, alongside Brian. Lindsay lives her life trying to live up to the expectations of the WASP world, even if she’s no longer a part of it. She’s jealous that while she’s still striving for it, I don’t care but still have the support of some major notables. I think within her mind she believes that Brian is only with me because I’m the male version of her.”

“Bite your fucking tongue and adjust your damn brain cells from that way of thinking, Sunshine. Even if Lindsay was able to grow a dick at will, I would never want to be with her!” Brian growled at him for voicing that bogus thought allowed. When Lindsay had first implied the same, it took everything within him not to yell at her within his office at Ryder. Truthfully, the only reason he hadn’t was because Gus was asleep, but he made no bones about disabusing her of the notion. “Where the hell would you even get an idea like that?”

“Why?” Melanie asked at the same time.

“Look. Lindsay could go through a sex change and become Larry, Leonard, Leon, Lester, or whoever-the-fuck and I still wouldn’t want her. She could sneeze and grow a ten-inch cock and I would still run screaming the other way. It’s her personality that makes it possible to keep her as a friend only, although lately, even that’s questionable. I’m just not attracted to clingy and entitled.”

“But Justin is from that set and he isn’t like that. Neither is Daphne,” Ted said.

“Exactly. It kind of makes me wonder why Michael is the way he is, when he isn’t,” Brian said.

“That’s easy to figure out, after all he’s been ‘mothered’ all his life,” Vic interjected. “But hopefully she is making enough progress to stop that bullshit.”

“I just hope Ben took my advice…” Cyn bites her lip. She had arrived back at the courthouse shortly after Brian called her to make the travel arrangements. That done, she had decided that she wanted to stay and lend some more support to Justin. With Brian away from the office and all business-related calls being forwarded to her cell phone, Cynthia was able to avoid running into Gardner and facing the third-degree of the proceedings thus far.

“Ben? Who’s Ben?” Brian asked.

“Remember my cousin I told you about? The one who is a professor at Carnegie Mellon? Well he also works part-time at the GLC as a counselor. We had lunch a few weeks ago and…”

“Oh my God, that Ben?” Vic asked. When all of them except Cynthia look at him puzzled, he explains. “Michael has been raving about some counselor he’s been meeting with. Only, now it seems that they are becoming more.”

“Fucking hell! I warned him about Michael.” Cynthia closed her eyes at the way she said that. “Sorry, Vic.”

“Hey, no worries. I have absolutely no illusions about Michael. He may be my nephew, and I may even love him, but I don’t like him and haven’t for quite awhile now. Not since the whole party with you, Senator Baxter.”

“Oh yes, I remember that little… Sorry, Vic,” she said, blushing.

He laughed. “Don’t be. I still have a hard time believing how ignorant he was that night… well, until he opens his mouth again. But that’s Deb’s fault, in too many ways to name. Hopefully now that she’s actually dating, she will snap the hell out of the Umbilical Cord Syndrome.”

“Wait! Deb’s dating? Oh what the hell has the world come to where Deb has a dating life and I don’t?” Emmett laments, causing them all to laugh.

“Considering your dating life lasts about the same time as it takes to fill a drive-thru order at McDonalds, perhaps it’s good that you don’t,” Ted snarked. “But that’s okay, Em since you’re about to become a daddy. You won’t want the baby to have a million ‘uncles’ that aren’t going to hang around.

The mention of his coming child took the sting out of Ted’s statement, and Emmett realized that Ted was right. He didn’t want to have a lot of unmentionables and their bad habits around his son or daughter. That was the one thing he had learned from Brian Kinney which he appreciated. He kept his ‘single’ life away from his life as father. No matter how many men vied for Brian’s attention, when he was out with Gus all but his close friends and Justin ceased to exist. “You’re right, Teddy. If there is a right one, he’ll come along. And if there isn’t…”

“You’ll have plenty of babysitters so you can play cock-ring around the rosey-hole at will,” Brian said, smirk firmly in place. Ted, Emmett, Vic, George, and Justin all picked a spot to hit or pinch him while he just laughed.  

“Cock-ring around the rosey… Brian! That’s disgusting!” Mel yelled at Brian’s variation on Ring around the Rosie. “My God, I will never hear that song again without thinking of this conversation.”

“Well then my work here is done.” Brian put his hands on his hips proudly while Justin just shook his head. “But onto business, Mel our flights have been arranged for tomorrow evening.”

“Our flights?”

“Yeah. You didn’t think that we were going to let you go alone did you? Besides with the outcomes today, Justin and I could certainly use the time away, even if it’s not for the reason we would have wanted.”

“Brian, where are we going? I thought we were…”

“That too Sunshine, for tonight and until our flights leave tomorrow, but…”

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, Brian, that while you’re there Farley’s Steakhouse chain wants to meet with you,” Cynthia said. “I confirmed the meeting just after I did the flights.”

“Farley’s? Who are they and why the hell do they want to meet with me?”

“That would be the thing that I wanted to talk to you about earlier, Brian,” Diane said. "I own a hefty stake in the restaurant chain left to me by my deceased husband. For all intents and purposes, they are still my in-laws, even though my only link to them was my daughter, Dana, who you know is also deceased. Regardless, we’ve all kept in touch these many years and they were looking for a new company to branch out with. They want to revamp their current image and also expand their chain to include Fine Dining as well. I was hoping that you would be willing to disassociate yourself from Vanguard sooner rather than later, as they personally can’t stomach Gardner Vance. They’ve worked with him before, and won’t entertain the possibility of doing so again.”

“Good God, I don’t even have all of the particulars from the bank back yet, or the staff to…” Brian began.

“You have at least three staff and an Accountant and an AD,” Cynthia argued.

“What are you talking about?”

“Marcy and I have just been waiting for you to say the word. Murph is definitely waiting and is more than happy to play second fiddle to Justin. Rance Miller is just below you in ranking within the office of Ad execs, and I know that he’s itching to leave Vanguard since he’s gay with a younger lover and doesn’t like what Gardner is doing to you.”

“Wait! Didn’t he come with Vance from Chicago?”

“Indeed he did, but has been trying to figure out his next move. He and Marcie have developed a friendship of sorts. His lover, Jason is transferring here and scheduled to start at CMU during the summer sessions.”

“Okay, we’ll talk about all the particulars later this evening. In the meantime, Mel, we need this to be done as soon as possible. And like it or not, you have to tell Lindsay. You can’t wait on this,” Brian ordered.

“Tell her what? And again, where are we going?” Justin asked.

“Florida. My dad…” Melanie paused to compose her emotions. “My dad is dying and requested to see me. But Brian, you and Justin don’t have to go with me. I’m a big girl and can handle this myself.”

“No one is discounting the size of your balls, Mel. But I remembered the visit you paid me when I found out about Jack…”

“You went to see him?” asked Ted, genuinely puzzled by this news. Mel and Brian were never the best of friends even on a good day back then. Sure, Justin’s situation had changed their dynamic, but he didn’t think anything would have before now.

“Yeah, I did. And you don’t owe me anything for that, Brian.”

“Never would have said I would, Smelly Melly. But no matter how much I acted like I didn’t need you all there, you didn’t leave me alone.” So it’s my turn is what Brian left unsaid, but they all heard it anyway.

Mel nodded with tears in her eyes. “Well for what it’s worth, thank you.”

“Don’t get moist. I’m not doing it for you, merely for the warmer weather. Anytime I can get Justin out of those dreaded cargo pants and into a pair of Speedos is an opportunity never to be missed.”

“And here I thought it was because you actually had a heart, Asshole,” Mel snarked, but she was smiling.

“See, Sunshine? I knew if you kept hanging around, people would think you’ve rubbed off on me.”

“And if you’re good, I’ll rub against you later.” Justin beamed at Brian, showing exactly why the moniker fit.

“But I’m so good at being bad.”

“Oh, so you’re in dire need of a spanking, then? If you take me by Flesh-n-Bone on the way home, I’ll be happy to deliver said punishment later this evening.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

“Flesh-n-Bone? Why does that name sound familiar?” Jennifer asked.

Brian promptly covered Justin’s mouth. “Ah, it’s just a store we frequent... on occasion.”

Daphne nearly laughed aloud, realizing exactly what kind of store Brian and Justin would go to together. Justin’s blush alone was telling all, but she couldn’t let the opportunity to mess with him go by. “What kind of store? Perhaps you could take me there sometime, Brian.”

“Not a chance in hell. I’d prefer you keep your innocence a little while longer.”

“Well, I can’t, since Justin took it.”

“Which reminds me… Justin, you and I will be talking, young man. I heard a very interesting tidbit of information recently from one of the young men in my class. Apparently, he was at some contest you participated in before all of this happened…”

“Oh shit!”

“Well I for one Mel, will be praying for you. I can’t be there for you, no matter how much I want to. Heather is getting closer to term and has requested that as soon as the baby is born everything be finalized,” Emmett told her.

“I know, Em, but I’ll call to keep you informed of everything. In the meantime, I’ve already spoken to Harry Donaldson about your case. He’s going to take over for me while I’m gone. Rosalee will have everything he needs, but I’m still only a phone call away. Is she still sure she wants to do this?”

“She’s sure, and I’m happy. I never thought I would be a father.”

“Well I’m sure if anyone should be one, it’s you, Em,” Ted said, as he looped his emotional friend around the neck.

“Don’t worry, Emmylou. With the stellar examples of what not to do you have to follow, you can’t go wrong,” Brian reassured him in his usual candid way.

“Speaking of which…” Emmett sighed aloud, turning his gaze to the door. He couldn’t believe that they would have the nerve to show up here.

Everyone followed the direction of Emmett’s eyes, expecting to see Michael and Lindsay. It was most expected of the two people who couldn’t understand the word ‘no’ when it wasn’t them saying it. Instead, each member of the family watched as the iron gray-haired lady scanned to courtroom while whispering to the unattractive woman next to her.

“Brian is that…”

“Yeah, it is, Sunshine. Perhaps if we remain still they won’t notice me and will leave without being the bitches they are.”

“I take it that’s your mother and sister, Brian?” Jennifer said, narrowing her eyes at the sour faces which had found their quarry. Deb had told her a little about Brian’s childhood during the days they spent waiting for Justin to wake up. It had taken everything in her not to go over to Joan Kinney’s house and wring her neck.

“If there is ever a way to pull and burn the single strand of DNA that links Claire and I together as siblings, I am going to be first in line. And here comes the shit show.”

“Brian, remember the WASP upbringing you have,” Jennifer reminded him, moving in closer by his side.

“I don’t have any.”

“Sure you do. Remember I told you that you’ve gotten in through osmosis. And whatever you haven’t absorbed yet, don’t worry. We’ve got loads of it to unleash for you.”

Brian looked down at his partner and the woman who was fast becoming the mother-of-his-heart. The twin looks of both anger and boredom made him want to laugh aloud. How they perfected such a look was beyond him. He donned his own mask of indifference as the two females came to rest in front of him, after barreling up the aisle like two valkyries on a mission from hell.

“Brian, we would like to speak to you, now and alone,” Joan’s voice rang out in an otherwise quiet courtroom.


“What do you mean ‘no’? This is not the time for your insubordination.”

“Sure it is, since you aren’t my boss…”

“I am your mother!”

“Are we sure about that? I’d like to see the DNA proof on that.”

“Don’t be stubborn, Brian. We need to talk about how to get you unentangled from the mess you’ve found yourself in with this... this… child.” She eyed Justin as if he was a bug to be squashed.

“I see no children here, unless it’s the overblown baby by your side. Perhaps you and your clone should leave, Joan. Isn’t it time for Mass?”

“Mother and I can’t show our faces in public because of your bad decisions, Brian,” Claire huffs.

“I find that hard to believe, since I’ve done everything in my power to disassociate myself from the two of you from the moment we put Jack in his grave. I’m sure he’s having the time of his life, roasting in hell by now. After all, it’s away from you two.”

“As always, you’re so selfish. Well I’m done playing games with you, Brian. I order you to obey me or you won’t like what happens!” Joan yelled and stepped forward, handing her ever-present Bible to Claire.

“Excuse me, but if you think you’re about to raise your hand in anything beyond scratching that hawkish nose of yours, I would think again.” Jennifer moved in front of Brian to face down the woman who never should have been a mother.

“Excuse yourself! This is between me and my son. So kindly keep your nose out of my business. This doesn’t concern you.”

“On the contrary, since what I’m sure you want to spew about is my son’s involvement with Brian.”

“Your son?” Joan looked with disgust at the young man again as he pressed deeper into Brian’s side and joined their hands. “Well that makes you just as bad! How could you let your child be molested by him?! You should have been putting the fear of God into him and directing him away from his deviant ways. Lord knows, Jack and I tried to, but Brian is the devil’s own spawn.”

“Then it’s a wonder why your sanctimonious, rude, uneducated, and ignorant ass is here, trying to talk to the devil. Ah, I see. You’re one of those people who tailor makes the Bible to support your hate and bigotry, even against your own flesh and blood. It’s funny, but I don’t remember God hating people, just their wrongdoings. I also know that parents are not supposed to abuse their children, nor be indifferent while they are being abused, yet you’ve clearly done both. Spare the rod and spoil the child did not mean drink to excess until you confuse a little boy with the man you should have been fighting! It also did not mean that said man should be allowed to beat his son so much and so often that he ended up with a dislocated shoulder, cracked ribs, and a host of cuts and bruises that someone else had to clean up, while you sat either cowering in the bottom of a bottle, protecting your loudmouthed cow of an underachieving daughter, or cheering him on from the kitchen, doing both of the aforementioned things at the same time! Well, Mrs. Kinney, I’m about to break a commandment or several myself if you don’t get the hell out of here!”

“Well I never…”

“And with that face and mouth, it’s a wonder you ever did!” Justin snarked before turning serious. “Stay away from us, or I’ll make you both sorry that your ears didn’t work.”

“Who do you think you are to threaten us?” Claire asked, stepping into Justin’s personal space.

But Justin was tired as fuck of bullies, even if they were biologically related to his lover. “Test me and find out.”

She stared at him, trying to will him to back down, just as her mother was still silently confronting Jennifer Taylor. Finally seeing that there was no victory to be had here, she nudged her mother. “Come on, Mother. We’ll talk to Brian when he doesn’t have his little blond puppies around.”

“Don’t delude yourself, Claire. I have nothing left to say to either of you. And for the record, these blonds ARE my family. You’re both nothing to me except an unfortunate mistake of genetics.” Brian said.

They all stood firm watching the two women slink from the courtroom in the same direction from which they’d come in. Brian breathed deeply and sighed with their exit, allowing the tenseness since he’d laid eyes on him to drain from his body. “I, for one, will be glad to be getting the hell out of here for a few days.”

“Yeah, me too. Not for the same reason, but just for some peace,” Justin said quietly.

“Brian, you need me to do anything?” Mel asked. She couldn’t help but feel sorry for Brian, hearing Jennifer describe what Deb had told her. Strangely, Joan Kinney reminded her of Lindsay in a way, although she couldn’t put her finger on it. Perhaps it was that inherent meanness which only showed itself when thwarted, but was kept tightly under wraps in public. In Joan’s case just now, she couldn’t put the lid on it since Brian rose to her challenge in the same manner it was given.

“No, Mel.”

“But Brian…”

“No. I’m sure that is the last I will see of her for awhile. If Joanie is nothing else, she’s smart. She’ll pick her time to try this again.”

“And we’ll be ready for her,” Jennifer stated emphatically, anger lacing her voice.

“All rise! The Honorable Lisa Lano, presiding.” The bailiff intoned, causing them all to turn in place.

“Be seated,” the judge ordered. “Mr. Palmer, are you ready to call your next witness?”

“I call Samuel Hobbs, Senior to the stand.”

The portly man was sworn in and then seated himself on the bench, looking at his attorney expectantly. Dale, for his part was ready to have this over. During the recess, it had taken all of his patience and some borrowed from up above to keep his composure and not have this declared a mistrial. The argument between him and his clients had gotten so loud that security was called and the attorney had to be removed from the room. When he re-entered, he noticed Chris sitting in the far corner of the conference room, holding the side of his head and Clara Hobbs’ wrist had been bandaged. Samuel had clarified that Chris had gotten beside himself in his tone with his mother. Although he didn’t condone violence against children, he couldn’t help but think that smack had come many years too late and as a result, they were here trying to save the Hobbs family financially, due to the actions of their son.

“Mr. Hobbs, as we discussed we want to refute the testimonies given by Kevin Dixon and the former Headmaster of St. James Academy. Can you tell me what the meeting regarding Justin Taylor’s extracurricular activities entailed?”

“Well, Craig Taylor had come to me to express his concerns about Justin’s future. He felt that his son was taking too much time from things that were important, in order to pursue a career that would never be lucrative enough to carry on his family’s legacy.”

“And what was your suggestion?”

“I didn’t have one. However, Dr. Perkins offered to shut the art club down for a year in order to get Justin focused on other things.”

“Other things? You mean like in the football team?”

“Yes. Most of the boys who were considered legacy students were on the football team. It was a way of building a camaraderie amongst the boys who would one day be linked in our world through business and familial ties.”

“So the goal was actually to promote friendships or brotherhood, much like a fraternity?”

“Exactly like that. I know that Christopher took it too far, and for that we are sorry, but our intentions and motives were for the greater good.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hobbs. No further questions, but reserve the right to recall, your honor.” Dale took his seat, silently thinking Melanie Marcus is about to eat your ass up and I’ll enjoy seeing the bones.


After hearing all of the testimony from the plaintiff’s side firsthand, he couldn’t dispute that Samuel Hobbs and his son owed that young man every cent. He would never understand or condone homosexuality, but he could respect someone else’s conviction to live in their own truth. Samuel and Christopher Hobbs violated that young man’s civil right to do so.

“Mr. Hobbs, I would like to go back to the money you paid Perkins to disband the art club.”

“I didn’t pay him any money.”

“Are you sure? Because his bank statements show hefty sums of money which matches the transferred amounts from your own account at First National Bank and Trust. They also reflect Craig Taylor’s withdrawals from his children’s trust fund accounts into his business and personal accounts. So I would like to know how the amount was settled upon.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about!”

“Your honor, we would like to enter into evidence the bank statements of Samuel Hobbs and Craig Taylor, along with the deposit transaction history of Mitchell Perkins. In addition, we would like to enter into evidence the financial records of Fox and Hounds Casino located just outside of Ontario County, New York. Mr. Hobbs, are you familiar at all with the Casino, more specifically its owners?”

“No, and I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.”

“Only that Justin isn’t the first student you had a personal stake in forcing your will on, is he? He isn’t the first person whose civil right to a receive their paid education without incurring personal injury, both physically and emotionally, you violated?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the harassment you implemented using your son, Christopher, to impress upon Leroy Wells and his family that he wasn’t welcome within your auspicious set.”

“I resent that implication!”

“There was no implication, only fact, Mr. Hobbs. Your honor, I would like to enter into evidence copies of the cancelled checks issued to Mitchell Perkins from First National Bank and Trust. Please pay close attention to the ‘memo’ sections of each check which details what the payment was for. Mr. Palmer, you should also have a copy within your papers, although I’m not sure you had an opportunity to go over them as they were late coming to each of our offices, due to the amount of research pulling them required.”

“I accept the evidence, Ms. Marcus. Please continue,” Judge Lano stated, barely able to conceal her contempt for the defendant on the witness stand. She couldn’t believe the way these adults played with these young men’s lives the way they had.

“Let’s move on from there for a few moments, Mr. Hobbs. How many shares do you own in Taylor Electronics?”

“I own ten shares in the company.”

“That must yield a nice monthly dividend for you. How much was your return until the company stock plummeted due to your son’s involvement in this case?”

“I received twenty grand monthly before the company was sold.” He scowled.

“And what did you do with that money, Mr. Hobbs?”

“None of your business.”

“I beg to differ, since we’re here. Your honor, I would like to submit the evidence of twenty thousand dollars being transferred and divided every month for the last year. The first set of transactions went to two people, Kevin Dixon and James Stockwell, while after the night of the prom, the same twenty thousand dollars was split five ways and supplemented by another forty-five thousand dollars to Judge Roy Russo, DA Clarence Peters, Kevin Dixon, former Headmaster Mitchell Perkins, and Martin Ryder, former CEO of Ryder Advertising Agency. For your honors clarification, can you explain the nature of your relationships with each of the men listed?”

“Two are family, the others are friends to whom I owed money.”

Melanie smirked at Samuel’s most basic answer to her question. “Your honor, four of the five men listed there were also involved in Christopher Hobbs criminal case in some capacity. Mitchell Perkins was the Headmaster at the school Justin and Christopher attended; Kevin Dixon, in addition to being Mr. Hobbs nephew by marriage was the Advanced Placement Calculus teacher of Justin and Christopher; soon-to-be former Police Chief Stockwell is being accused of ordering that Chris Hobbs’ attempted murder of Justin Taylor be downgraded to Simple Assault, tampering with evidence and hindering an investigation, and Judge Roy Russo is being indicted on Bribery and Racketeering charges in this case and beyond it. The District Attorney’s office is currently investigating Martin Ryder and Gardner Vance’s business deal for the company formerly known as Ryder Advertising Agency, now Vanguard Advertising Agency, where Mr. Brian Kinney is employed. Do you deny any of what I’ve just stated, Mr. Hobbs.”

“Why bother, since you seem to have all the answers?”

“In that case, I rest my case. No further questions, your honor, and no need to recall.”

“You may step down, Mr. Hobbs. Mr. Palmer, do you have anything further to add or another witness to call?” Judge Lano asked.

“No, your honor,” Dale said. He was just ready to hear that Samuel Hobbs had to pay so he could put this whole case behind him. He honestly wanted to punch his father in the head for being so stupid in risking his own career for these entitled idiots.

“Ordinarily, I would need to have a few moments to review the evidence, but such is not the case here. Will the defendants please stand?” When they did, Lisa Lano took in their appearance as a whole. Both stood before her, unrepentant in their roles as Justin Taylor’s tormentors. The same justice system that she had believed in all her life had failed the young man and his family greatly. She wouldn’t. “Based on all the evidence presented, it is my decision that Christopher Mark Hobbs and Samuel Aloysius Hobbs, Senior, egregiously and willfully injured Justin Cole Taylor.


"Although Christopher was a minor in age at the time, his crime of attempted murder- for that is really what it was- should have seen him tried as an adult to the fullest extent of the law. Furthermore, based on the evidence and witness testimonies, it is clear that the crime was both premeditated and subsequently covered up at the behest of Samuel Hobbs, Senior.


"Therefore, it is the decision of this court to award damages in the amount of two million dollars to Justin Taylor- one million for the physical damage inflicted by Christopher Hobbs; the other million for the mental and emotional distress for which Samuel Hobbs paid hefty sums of money to inflict. It is payable before you leave court today or it will be my extreme pleasure to hold you, Mr. Samuel Hobbs, in contempt until you do. Mr. Palmer, make it so. Case dismissed!” She banged her gavel and exited the bench to the otherwise silent courtroom.

“Well, Judge Lano just fixed their asses good. She’s not even giving them a chance to appeal her verdict,” Mel said.

“Couldn’t that come back to bite her and us in the ass?” Brian asked.

“Not really. I mean, they can ask the State Supreme Court to review the case, but even they would have a hard time disputing her verdict with all the evidence we’ve presented. Plus, this was also a highly publicized case from the beginning, so any action beyond paying Justin the award amount will make Hobbs come off as a bully. His business is already floundering since Chris’ conviction of simple assault.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. Seems gay or straight doesn’t matter as much as the scent of scandal. The corporations he deals with are large enough that if the public gets wind of any tendencies of bigotry- even if they include homophobia- it will impact their bottom lines negatively.”

“So basically, their continued corporate greed works to our advantage in this case. The last thing they would want is to piss off a diverse demographic of consumers with billions of dollars in disposable income,” Brian confirmed. It’s how he marketed his own business dealings, with even the most homophobic of clients.

“Exactly!” Shavonne said. “The only faces and opinions that matter in the end are those of the dead presidents, not necessarily who is buying the product. Quite simply, money doesn’t talk; it screams.”

Coming out of his daze, Justin’s eyes glazed over again. “Holy shit! I’m a multi-millionaire.”

“And we’re not telling anyone about this,” Brian murmured to the group at large. “Especially not Lindsay or Michael. And not Debbie, either.

“Why not Deb?” Emmett asked, a little confused. Unless it affected Michael directly, she would be happy for Justin.

“Because she would broadcast it and therefore Lindsay and Michael would know. It would just be another reason for them to use as to why Justin should leave Brian, or in Lindsay’s case, why Brian should have no problem buying her things… for Gus, of course. So no telling Deb, got it?” Vic asked.


They all nodded their assent. “Got it!”


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