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Drawn to Mr. King: Chapter 17

Jaxon

    going?”

I rest my head in my hands on the kitchen counter. The sound of Christopher’s voice makes my chest burn. I would have video called him, but I’m not in any fit state to be seen right now.

“Great, Son. How are you? How’s Leah?”

“She’s good, Dad.”

“What about Tiger? Did you stay in her Nan’s good-books?”

Christopher laughs down the phone, and it draws a smile out of my sullen face. I’ve heard that laugh so many times over the past twenty-six years, but it still makes my heart swell every time. I can picture the way his face lights up and how he grins so wide, you can see all his straight teeth—ones that were helped by braces and a complete load of dental appointments I took him to as a kid.

“Yeah, Dad. Tiger’s doing fine. Well remembered.”

“Hey, I’m your dad. It’s my job to remember what’s going on in your life.”

“How about you? How’s the book project going?”

I rub my hand over my eyes. Thinking about White Fire makes me think about Megan.

And thinking about Megan makes me… makes me what?

Nausea seeps from my stomach up to my throat, causing it to tighten. I clear my throat, forcing it back down.

“It’s going great. The kids’ test day was a hit, and Tina finalised cover choices today. We’re all set for book one to publish now.”

“That’s great, Dad. But I meant Martin’s book?”

“Oh?”

Christopher’s met Martin more than a few times over the years, and they’ve always got on great. If Christopher ever moves closer, I can see the three of us hanging out together a lot.

If I’m still around, that is.

The phone’s silent as Christopher waits for me to answer.

“Yes, he’s doing great.” I swallow the golf ball that’s now sitting in my throat. “He’s almost done with his first draft.”

“That’s brilliant. I can’t wait to read it. It’s thanks to you, Dad.”

I get up and pace over to the living area window and look out. It’s still light out. Most people are still at work. Veronica didn’t question it when I phoned from outside Joanna’s clinic and asked her to re-arrange my afternoon appointments. Not even though the last time I did it was when Christopher was at school and needed picking up after skinning his knees so deep, he cried for over an hour.

“I’ve done nothing. Martin’s the one who’s put in all the work.”

Christopher tuts down the phone, and I can imagine he’s rolling his eyes at me right now.

“He told me he couldn’t have done it without you. Why don’t you give yourself credit, Dad? You’re always telling me how proud you are of me. You should know, I’m proud of you too.”

I screw my eyes shut.

“That means a lot.”

“I mean it. At the risk of getting heavy, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you, either. You’ve always believed in me, always been there for me.”

Hearing him say that has my chest burning. It’s all I ever wanted. For him to know I was there for him, Penelope too. To never feel scared or alone, like I did when I lost my dad. It’s why it meant so much to me that Penelope and I stayed together until he was an adult. He had to have that safe home environment with two loving, healthy parents. The thought of anything happening that resulted in him having to grow up too fast would have broken my heart.

His happiness means more to me than anything else.

“You’ve always meant the world to me. You know that.” My voice cracks.

“You sure you’re alright, Dad?”

I rub a hand over my jaw and the day’s growth that’s formed.

“I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s just been a long day.”

“It’s not over yet. You’re calling earlier than usual. You sure you’re okay?” Concern creeps into Christopher’s voice. I don’t want him wasting his time worrying about me.

I cough and steady my voice. “Really, I’m fine. I came to work from home this afternoon as I had a headache starting.”

“Okay,” Christopher answers, not sounding convinced.

“I better let you go. Say hello to Leah from me.”

“I will, Dad.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I end the call and rest one hand up against the glass of the window. The sudden coldness under my palm throws an image of Megan into my mind. Megan stood in front of my bedroom window, naked—wanting me, trusting me.

How can I ever be the man she thinks I am now?

I can’t promise her a future.

I can’t promise her anything.

They could find out the cancer has spread during surgery next week. Even if it hasn’t, the chances of it coming back are high.

She’s only thirty, for God’s sake!

She has her entire life ahead of her. I can’t be the selfish prick who ties her to me when I don’t know whether I’ll even be here in a few years. I should have kept away from her. I knew this would happen. Deep down, I knew. We were only ever meant to have that one night together and then leave with the memories. She could have lived her life. And I could have dealt with this without involving her or anyone else.

“Argh!” I slam my fist against the glass.

It doesn’t fall out and let me tumble to the ground below, which may solve some problems. It doesn’t even shudder, just makes a dull thump. I should know it’s too much to hope for a faulty pane in a building designed and constructed by Tanner Grayson’s company. His world-renowned building company is just too damn good. His company did the re-model in the hotel where I met Megan. Surely karma owes me a faulty window, or maybe a dangerous electrical socket after that. What kind of cruel game is the universe playing? Bringing her into my life and then threatening to end it prematurely? Two months of knowing she exists… two months of having feelings stirred up inside me… feelings I had given up any hope of ever feeling. I’m not bitter about it. I’d resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t fall in love. Not the deep, head-fuck kind that makes up the stories in some of the company’s bestselling novels we publish.

I’m blessed. I have Christopher. I have a company I love. I have my health.

I had my health.

I never asked for anything more… and then she came along.

Now I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, my balance gone that moment before I fall… fall for her.

Only in the stories, I would fly… and we could be together.

But this is real life.

And in real life, sometimes you crash.


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