Read The Mistletoe Experiment Online

Authors: Serena Yates

Tags: #erotic MM, #Romance MM

The Mistletoe Experiment (2 page)

sure that doesn"t happen.” Lance smiled again. “It"s all part

of having a fair trial.”

“But they did a very bad thing. I just want them to go to

prison.” Jakob"s stubborn pout had become very rare since

Lance had moved in with them last December, but it was

back in full force now.

“I"m certain they will go to prison for a very long time.”

Lance frowned. “We just need to tell the judge and the jury

exactly what happened.”

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“Mr. Magnus Carstens?” A court official stuck his head

into the waiting room. “They"re ready to see you now.”

“I"ll be right there.” Magnus hugged Jakob, squeezed

Lance"s hand, and followed the guard through the thick

wooden doors.

He looked around as he was shown to the witness

stand. The courtroom looked no different than anything he"d

seen on TV. The twelve members of the jury sat silently and

mostly attentively on one side; only one of them, an older

man wearing a plaid shirt, about to fall asleep.

Across from the witness stand was the prosecutor, Ms.

Baxter, a young-looking woman with a tight blonde bun and

wearing a well-tailored pants suit. They"d briefly met before

the trial to discuss strategy, mainly so he and Lance would

be able to tell Jakob what would happen. She"d also outlined

the defense"s potential strategies and had reminded him to

keep his answers short and to the point.

Magnus was sworn in and took his seat. He answered

the prosecution"s questions, but it was even harder than he"d

expected to relive the emotional hours of last December, after

he"d realized Jakob had been taken from his room. But Ms.

Baxter got him through it, sticking to the facts and

supporting him with glances and smiles.

When it was the defense lawyer"s turn, the painfully thin

man rose and wandered over to the witness stand, seemingly

in deep thought.

“So, let me get this straight, Mr. Carstens.” The defense

attorney stopped in front of him, making sure the members

of the jury could see them both. “You were awarded custody

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over your nephew after your brother, Mikkel Carstens, and

his wife, Irene Carstens, nee Tabbart, died in a plane crash

in Africa.”

“That is correct.” Magnus nodded.

“You didn"t think that was rather irresponsible of

them?” The defense lawyer frowned.

“What, the fact that they died?”
What the hell?

“Don"t be ridiculous, Mr. Carstens.” The man shook his

head. “The fact that they wanted you, a confirmed, gay

bachelor, to take—”

“Objection!” Ms. Baxter raised her hand. “I fail to see

what Mr. Carstens"s sexual orientation has to do with the

kidnapping.”

“Mr. Leahy, please approach the bench.” The judge

looked like a man who didn"t allow any nonsense in his

courtroom, despite his youthful appearance.

Mr. Leahy had a short, intense conversation with the

judge before he returned to his previous position. He looked

slightly chastised, but none the worse for wear.

“Let"s approach this from a different angle.” Mr. Leahy

pinched his nose briefly. “Once Mr. and Mrs. Tabbart fought

you for custody, didn"t their reasoning make you think that

maybe the child would be better off with them?”

“No, it did not.” He"d had his doubts all right, but if

Mikkel and Irene wanted him to take care of Jakob, he

would. That had never been up for debate.

“So, you didn"t think that a young boy would be better

off with a couple who can offer him a normal life?” Mr. Leahy

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11

played the role of slightly surprised man really well. “A life

with a female as well as a male role model, with a stay-at-

home parent and in a city large enough to offer him lots of

friends and a good school?”

“No, I didn"t think so then, and I certainly don"t think so

now.” Magnus smiled. “I thought that whatever the boy"s

parents considered was right for Jakob is what I should do.

Even if I had to change my life to take care of him, which I

did. Jakob became my first priority from the moment the

responsibility for raising him passed to me.”

Half the members of the jury were frowning, the other

half looked thoughtful. Except for the old man in the plaid

shirt, who looked like he was about to nod off, his eyelids

clearly drooping as his head sank farther and farther

forward. His neighbor, a young woman in a bright yellow

dress, touched his shoulder and he pulled himself upright

again.

“So, if the boy"s welfare was so important to you, why

did you take a complete stranger into your home, just days

after you"d met him?” Mr. Leahy"s eyes widened, as if this

really surprised or shocked him.

“Objection, your honor!” Ms. Baxter rose from her seat.

“This line of reasoning is completely inappropriate and

unrelated to the case.”

“Your honor, I am simply trying to prove that Mr.

Carstens is an unfit guardian and that my clients had good

reason to want the child removed from his care.” Mr. Leahy

glared at Magnus. “People like you shouldn"t be allowed to

raise children.”

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“Mr. Leahy!” The judge banged his gavel. “You will

refrain from judgmental statements like that last one, or I

will find you in contempt of court. We are here to try Mr. and

Mrs. Tabbart for the kidnapping of Jakob Carstens, not to

make value judgments about Mr. Carstens"s fitness as a

guardian.”

Magnus found it difficult to suppress a smile. It looked

like the Tabbarts" defense had hit a bit of a roadblock.

“Now, will everyone come back to order, please.” The

judge looked around the courtroom. Nobody dared to move.

“Mr. Carstens, you may answer the question relating to your

reasons for bringing Mr. Rivera into your home, since that

seems relevant to what happened later.”

How was he going to answer that question? He couldn"t

very well explain what he had come to think of as the

Mistletoe Phenomenon to the judge, could he? It was clear to

him, and of course to Lance, that kissing under the mistletoe

just before last Christmas had had some effect on the speed

of their relationship"s development. But that was only part of

the reason, and he felt that it was a part best left out of the

official explanation.

“One of the things I found most difficult after my

brother"s death was making an emotional connection to

Jakob that was more permanent than that of a visiting

uncle.” Magnus swallowed. “Jakob and I used to see each

other on a regular basis, but I was never the person who

raised him. I felt that I needed a different kind of connection

with him for that to be a success. Adding his parents" recent

deaths to the mixture only made this more difficult.”

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“What you"re saying is that you were having trouble

relating to the child, isn"t it?” Mr. Leahy had apparently

recovered from the shock of being reprimanded by the judge.

“Yes.” Magnus could only hope that this admission

wouldn"t damage the case. But he couldn"t very well lie about

what had happened. “We were slowly beginning to trust each

other more. Partly, I think, because Jakob saw the changes I

made in my life to make sure that I was around for him

when he needed me. But it still wasn"t easy. When we met

Lance, the connection he made with Jakob was immediate.

Jakob responded to him, and opened up. Lance helped him

begin to deal with his parents" deaths. I brought him into our

home as a caregiver for Jakob.”

“And that was the only reason?” Mr. Leahy barely

suppressed his smirk.

“That was the only reason that was truly important.”

Magnus smiled.

He wouldn"t give this idiot the satisfaction of walking

into his trap. The fact that he"d fallen in love with Lance

rather quickly had played a role, even though it had taken

him longer to realize and admit it. But the reality of it was

that without Lance"s ability to help him with Jakob, he

would not have moved that quickly.

Whatever they tried to make him look bad, or their little

family look “abnormal”, he was going to fight tooth and nail.

He was no longer willing to tolerate uneducated, short-

sighted bigots interrupting their lives. He had a family to

defend, and he was going to do that to the best of his ability.

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14

Chapter Two

LANCE had hated watching Jakob walk into the courtroom

on his own. The only thing keeping him in his uncomfortably

hard seat in the corridor was the knowledge that Magnus

would be right on the other side. It had still been very hard

to let go of the Jakob"s hand. Who knew what the defense

lawyer would come up with? Lance could only hope that the

judge would rein the man in if he misbehaved.

Finally, he was called in. The mood in the courtroom

was strangely subdued. He glanced at Magnus and Jakob as

he walked past them toward the witness stand. Both of them

were smiling. Thank God, it looked like things had gone well.

This was confirmed as soon as he saw the defense

lawyer"s pinched face. Brian and Nancy looked downright

panicky. Good! He was going to keep it that way.

The initial questions from the prosecutor were fine. Ms.

Baxter had told them what to expect, so he was somewhat

prepared. It was still hard to go through all the feelings that

were brought up by talking about the time they"d spent in

fear, not knowing what had happened to Jakob and not

knowing if they"d see him again.

The line of questioning from the defense lawyer was

much more difficult. The man started out by trying to make

him feel bad about being gay, attempted to make him admit

that it was wrong for two men to raise a child, and ended in

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an attack on his manhood because he wasn"t financially

contributing to the household. According to the other man,

that was a bad example to set for Jakob.

Shit, if Magnus hadn"t been there, giving him his

unwavering support with his gaze and smile, he might have

lost it and attacked the little weasel.

But finally, they were done and made their way back to

the hotel. They had a two-bedroom suite and treated

themselves and Jakob to room service before putting Jakob

to bed. The second room may have been very small, but it

had made the boy very proud to have his own hotel room.

“I can"t wait for the final decision so that we can put all

of this behind us.” Magnus sat down on the leather sofa and

held out his hand. “I"m afraid it will take a while, though, by

the time they hear all the other witnesses and the jury

makes up their minds….”

“I know. We might be looking at next week.” Lance sat

down next to Magnus. “I think we should treat the rest of the

time as a bit of a holiday, what do you think? Unless you

want to follow the trial?”

“God, no!” Magnus put his arm around Lance"s

shoulders and pulled him close. “I can think of a lot better

things to do than sit in that stuffy room, having to watch

and listen to everyone repeating what we know to be fact

anyway. Brian and Nancy are guilty, and the sooner

everyone realizes that the better.”

“Leave it to the scientist in the family to focus on the

facts.” Lance grinned and snuggled into Magnus"s side.

“Jakob seemed to handle it well, though.”

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“Yeah, he did a great job. After he identified Brian and

Nancy as the people who"d kidnapped him, Ms. Baxter stood

so that he didn"t have to see them. Mr. Leahy objected, but

the judge struck him down.” Magnus grinned. “The man had

misbehaved himself before, accusing me of being a bad

guardian to make it look like the Tabbarts were actually

doing the right thing.”

“I hate that they did the predictable thing!” It just made

him mad.

“Didn"t do him any good.” Magnus laughed. “It just

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