Family Lies Chapter 18: Agreement

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

Family Lies Chapter 18: Agreement chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

Jessica picked Emily up.  As they drove to the meeting Jessica explained that Henry had been granted bail on the charges of acting with menaces and trespassing.  Police were holding other potential charges until they had more evidence. They were still unable to prove Henry had been responsible for the fake bomb, and the death threats. 

They did have enough to apply for an order preventing Henry approaching her, her family, her home or their homes, work or schools, and order the magistrate had been happy to provide.

“So the upshot is, Henry’s free, but if he comes anywhere near you or yours, he’s going to jail.”

“Honestly,” Emily replied, “If he just leaves us all alone, I’m happy for him to continue to be free.”

“The same as you’re happy to pay Jack if you can be free of him?”

“Exactly. All I want is for my family and me to be able to enjoy a peaceful life.”

“Well, I guess that’s not a lot to ask, I hope it works out.”

.  .  .

Emily and Jessica sat across the table from Jack and his uncomfortable-looking solicitor, named Bill Edwards.

“Although I have advised my client there is no way he could win in court, he is insisting on going ahead with this case. I’m not sure why we’re here,” was Bill Edwards’ opening.

“I’m just surprised we’re here without Geoff from Jack’s work, who seems to be his actual legal advisor,” Emily said, cynically.

“I was going to ask him to come, but he’s been away from work for a couple of days.  He’s sick.  But he should have come, he knows more about this stuff than anyone.  I told him everything, all about you and all about the girls, and Geoff told me I deserved the money.”

Emily had a strange thought.  Geoff, who Jack told everything to, was away just at the same time as Henry, who seemed to know more than he should, was in custody.  “What does Geoff look like?” Emily asked.

“Why?” Jack asked in response. 

“Humour me.  Do you go out for drinks or anything? Do you have photos of you together?”

Jessica gave Emily a strange look.

“As a matter of fact, we do,” Jack said. He pulled out his phone and scrolled through photos, and showed Emily a photo of himself with another man.

“Look familiar?” Emily asked Jessica.

“Henry Clark Henderson. So how does your half brother get a job under the name Geoff?” Jessica said.

“I don’t know, but I guess we now know how he knows so much about my family.  Something to tell Detective Carstairs.”

“What are you two talking about? Emily doesn’t have a half-brother,” Jack said.

Emily shook her head,  then said, “Let’s just make the offer so we can leave.”

Jessica took copies of the offer out of her briefcase.

“It’s like this,” Jessica said.  “If you go to court, Jack will lose, and will probably be ordered to pay Emily for all that he took from the marriage. Well Emily doesn’t want that. She doesn’t want to go to court. She doesn’t want her daughters inconvenienced by having to appear.  So she’s willing to make this one-time offer.  Either accept it now, or it’s off the table for ever. The offer is this: Emily will pay Jack five million dollars, on two conditions.  Firstly, he will sign here and now an agreement that he acknowledges that this is a grace payment and that Emily does not owe him anything, and he will not under any circumstances attempt to claim anything further from her.  Secondly, he will never again attempt to contact Emily by any means whatsoever.  To be sure he will comply with the second condition, the five million will not be paid until Jack has gone three months without attempting to contact Emily.  At three months, Emily will deposit the money into the same bank account she’s been using to loan Jack money he hasn’t repaid over many years. Decide now, because we’re leaving in fifteen minutes, whether this is signed or not.”

Emily was impressed. She’d never seen Jessica in full-on legal warrior mode. She prided herself on choosing good people, and she was pleased with her choice in solicitor.

Bill seemed confused, but advised Jack it was the best offer he could possibly get, and he shouldn’t throw away the offer.

Jack said, “I think I should call Geoff and see what he thinks.”

Jessica answered, “Well he was granted bail when he appeared in court this morning, so depending how quickly he was processed out of police custody, he might have his phone again now. Go ahead and call.”

“What are you talking about?” Jack said. 

“Geoff is a false name, of a man who has been threatening Emily, and your daughters and their children, presumably using information you gave him. But go ahead, ask his advice.”

Jack hesitated a moment, looked from Jessica and Emily to his own solicitor, and back to his phone.  Eventually he said, “I don’t believe you, I trust Geoff.” He tried to call, but received no answer.

“Guess he doesn’t have his phone back yet,” Jessica said.  “Tick tick.  Clock’s ticking, make up your mind.”

She began to pack things back in her briefcase.

“All right I’ll sign,” Jack said.

“You’re sure you understand the agreement?” Jessica asked.  “Do you need your solicitor to go through it and explain it paragraph by paragraph?”

“I said I’ll sign,” Jack said. “Where do I sign?”

Jessica showed him where to sign, Bill witnessed his signature, then Emily signed and Jessica witnessed her signature.

.  .  .

In the car, Emily said, “So did Henry seek Jack out? Is that the reason for the fake name? Or was it coincidence?”

“Him setting Jack up to try getting money out of you certainly wasn’t coincidence. I don’t know the reason for the fake name, or how he managed to get a job without being able to give a tax file number, which he’d need to use his real identity to get.”

Emily’s phone rang.

“I don’t believe this.” Emily said, “It’s Jack.”

“What? I don’t believe this either.  Answer the call. Put it on speaker and record it.”

Emily did as Jessica instructed.

“Jack, what the hell!” Emily said.

“That five million.  Why can’t you just give it to me now? This whole three months thing is nonsense.”

Jessica answered, “Jack you just signed a document saying you wouldn’t contact Emily again, and if you contacted her within three months you would get nothing.  This is within the three months.  It’s so far within the three months it’s utterly ridiculous.  This call has meant you get nothing.  If you contact, bother, or harass my client ever again, I will get a restraining order against you, so that further harassment will get you sent to jail.  I won’t ask you if you understand, because clearly you don’t even understand that question. Emily’s hanging up now.  Do not call again.”

Emily hung up the phone. 

“Email me the recording, so we’ve got a paper trail.  I’ll forward it to Bill Edwards, in case Jack wants to know why he’s not getting any money.  Then block Jack’s number.  If he tries to contact you in any other way, don’t answer, just note it and let me know.”

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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