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Drawn to Mr. King: Chapter 26

Megan

    up at the back of my skirt. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I swear it’s already getting tighter. I should still have a few weeks before I show, surely? I was hoping to have longer to think through my work options, but rumours have already started circulating around the office since the Lydia-and-Tim-proposal show.

It’s only a matter of time before people figure out who the test really belonged to.

I let out a deep sigh. Another Monday morning. After the events of Saturday, I was wiped out. I called a taxi from Jaxon’s place and got straight into my pyjamas when I got home. I only took them off a couple of hours ago to get ready for work. Knowing he’s been having tests and treatment for cancer all these weeks makes my stomach heave. How could he have kept it to himself? I could have been there with him, supporting him. He’s been going through it all alone.

I draw in a shaky breath. The look on his face when he told me. He thinks he’s doing what’s best, pushing me away. But he has it so wrong, too consumed with living in the past to consider a future—a future where we could be happy together.

I cannot hope or think about the what-ifs anymore. He’s made it clear how he feels, and I have no choice but to accept it.

I must move on now.

If I let myself hope any longer, then I will destroy any chance of happiness I have. It will eat me up inside. I’ve been blessed. There’s a new life growing inside me. One that has two grandparents and countless friends ready to shower it with love… and one parent who will make it her life’s focus to make sure there is no gap left by Jaxon—not even a faint crack for doubt to creep in. I will love this baby more than enough for both of us. I’m terrified. I never imagined doing this alone. But at the same time, I feel empowered.

It may not be how I envisioned things being, but I’m going to do my best.

And I will make it work.

I apply a slash of bright red lipstick in the mirror. It does the trick and draws attention away from my tired, puffy eyes. I force a smile onto my face and smooth down my blouse.

Time to carry on.

I head out of the toilets and spy Lydia on my way down the corridor. She speeds up, grabbing my elbow and pulling me into the small kitchen with her.

“Hey, do you know what’s going on?” Her eyes dart behind me to the open doorway.

“What are you talking about?”

Her face is lit up the way it does whenever there’s some major event worthy of office gossip occurring.

I grab my mug from the cupboard and take a small pot of chopped ginger out of my handbag, decanting it into the mug. I place it underneath the boiler tap to fill it. It’s not the same as Jaxon’s home recipe, but I’d rather pull out my fingernails than ask him how to replicate his.

“Phil.” She raises her eyebrows.

“What about him?” I frown, giving my mug a stir and inhaling the calming scent. At least Jaxon hasn’t ruined this for me. Even if it makes me think of him, it’s worth it just to get the calmness that a mug brings me.

Lydia drops her voice and leans closer, “haven’t you noticed he’s not in today? He’s always here before us.”

I shake my head. I hadn’t noticed. But then my mind’s been elsewhere, mulling over what to do about work.

“Apparently, he’s been suspended. Some investigation into inappropriate behaviour. Something to do with when Ruth in accounts was off.”

“What?” I glance over her shoulder to make sure no one is about to come in. “Where did you hear that?”

“It’s amazing what you hear when you help out in every department, Meg. Like, did you know the post guy is a total comic nerd? Goes to those conventions dressed as some supervillain. Still, it might be sexy if he’s really bad when he gets into it.” She crosses her arms and stares off into space.

“Lyds, focus,” I snap.

“Sorry. I’m telling you, though. There’s definitely something going on.” She stops talking and smiles sweetly as Frankie comes in.

“Morning, Frankie.” I smile as we pass him and head out.

Lydia gives me a ‘talk later’ look as I wave and head back to my desk.

This is crazy. Most of the team are in, working away as normal. No one else seems to have noticed anything different. I sneak a look at Phil’s closed office door as I sit down and open my emails. I can’t say I’ve ever liked him; there’s always been something off there.

I shudder as I click on the newest email.

What the hell?

Lydia’s right. Something must be going on. The head of Human Resources has requested I attend a meeting in half an hour.

They must want to interview me about Phil. I bet everyone is being asked to go up for individual questioning. That’s how these investigations are conducted, isn’t it? Question everyone one at a time?

I take a sip of my tea. What help can I be? I don’t rate him as a manager. Before the White Fire project, he gave me all the crap assignments. He always favours the guys and thinks nothing of being dismissive and downright rude when he speaks. But he’s never said or done anything creepy to me. I will just be honest. I doubt they’ll even need to speak to me for more than ten minutes.

I close the email and search for the company’s maternity policy instead, letting out a sigh as a full page of file names loads up on the screen.

Better get reading.


“Hi, Mum.”

“Hi, Megan. How are you, love? How was your day?”

I smile at the sound of my mum’s voice as I walk around my bedroom, pulling my gym bag out of the wardrobe.

“It was good. I’m just getting ready to meet my friend Abigail for Barre class.”

I stuff a clean towel inside my bag and check my gym card is still in the outer pocket, where I always keep it.

“Have you thought any more about what I said? Coming to stay with your father and me?”

I chew my bottom lip between my teeth. I don’t want to upset her or let her down. I know they are offering to help, and it’s so generous of them. But I can’t move home. It doesn’t feel right. I’m thirty years old. I can’t run back to my parent’s.

“Mum… thank you so much… you and dad. But I want to stay here. My friends are here, and my job.”

Mum’s voice is soft and understanding, “I knew you would, Megan. I told your father you wouldn’t want to rely on us; you’re too independent. You always have been so driven. It’s one reason I’m so proud of you.”

I sit down on my bed. “I always thought you wanted me to settle down and have a family, like—”

“Like me?” she cuts in with a chuckle. “Megan. I’m happy with what I have and the way things have turned out. I wouldn’t change it for a second. But I was ambitious once, too.”

“I know,” I say. Mum is talented. She could have had a successful career before my brother and I arrived.

“I’m proud of you for doing what you love and following your dreams. And I’m not that old, you know. It’s never too late. In fact, I’ve just signed up for a course at the local college.”

“Really?” I can’t hide the surprise in my voice.

“Yes, interior design,” she says proudly.

“Oh, Mum. That’s brilliant!” I smile as she tells me about the course, the excitement pouring out with her words.

It was always her passion. To hear that she’s finally pursuing it gives me goosebumps. Maybe it doesn’t always have to be one thing or the other. Things may not look how you expect them to, but you don’t have to give up one dream for another entirely.

I can hear the smile coming through in her words as she continues.

“It’s something else new and exciting to look forward to, as well as the baby. I know you are very capable, Megan. But don’t be too proud to ask for help. Your father and I aren’t that far away, and we’d love to help however we can.”

“I know, thanks, Mum.”

“Have you told your workplace about it yet?”

“Yes. I told them today.” I lean back against the pillows on the bed. “It’s been an odd day, actually. My boss has been suspended, and whilst he’s under investigation, they want me to fill in for him as head of design.”

“Megan! That’s wonderful!” Mum gushes. “You deserve this opportunity, love. More than a man who can’t buy his own mother’s birthday card himself.”

I laugh. “Thank you. I had to tell them about the baby when they offered it to me. It didn’t seem fair to agree without them knowing that I would disappear onto maternity leave in six or so months. It may not go on for that long, but there’s a chance it could if he doesn’t come back.”

“And?” she presses.

“And they were really great about it. Said they would support me in any way they could and that we could have regular meetings to see how things are going. It’s got to be taken one step at a time. No one knows what’s going to happen long term.”

“Still, that’s wonderful. I’m so pleased for you, love. Have you, um… have you heard from Jaxon?” she asks, a touch of anticipation in her voice.

I get up off the bed and head over to my drawers, pulling out my gym clothes.

“He hasn’t changed his mind.”

There’s no point telling her about the cancer. She will get hopeful, just like I did when he first told me. Misguided hope that now he’s shared it, we can move on. Move on and make plans for the future.

Together.

She sighs and tuts to herself. “Well, you’ve got us, Megan. And you’re tougher than people give you credit for. It will be okay.”

I take a deep breath. I know she’s right. Hearing her say it, backing me up, helps me to believe it too.

“Thanks, Mum.”

“Right, I better leave you to get ready, so you aren’t late for your class. Enjoy it, love. It’s even more important to take care of yourself now, you know.”

I roll my eyes and smile. “I know, Mum. Love you.”

“Love you too, sweetheart.”

I end the call and strip out of my work clothes, pulling on my leggings, workout bra, and t-shirt.

This day has been full of surprises—Mum starting a course, me getting offered Phil’s job—it’s crazy. So much seems to be changing all at once.

My housemate, Rachel, has flown over to LA to visit our friend Holly, who moved there after meeting her husband on a flight. He’s American, and they’ve just had their first baby together. I wanted to join Rachel when I could, but with all that’s going on at work right now, it’s the worst time to ask for leave.

My chest squeezes as I zip up my gym bag.

Holly and her husband, Jay, are living the dream. They have each other and their new baby. They’re doing it together, as a family.

And then there’s me. And Jaxon.

Separate.

I shake the thought from my head. I will not allow myself to wallow in self-pity or fall into the ‘poor me’ hole. So what if I’m doing this without him? I used to think I wasn’t good enough… for art school… for my role at Articulate. But as it turns out, I got offered a place all those years ago, and now I’m filling in for Phil. I’m capable of so much more than I’ve given myself credit for.

can do this without Jaxon.

He’s the one missing out, and that’s his loss. No more doubting myself. No more underestimating what I can achieve.

I throw my shoulders back as I stand and grab my bag, heading downstairs.

Here’s to new beginnings.


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