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Drawn to Mr. King: Chapter 3


    down onto my desk and let out a frustrated groan as I walk to the window and stare out at the London skyline.

Seeing her again. God, I didn’t think it would be so difficult. I shake my head in annoyance with myself as I pace up and down the windowed wall of my office.

I thought it was a good idea to contract a smaller company for White Fire’s illustrations and promotional material. They’ll have fresher ideas, be a closer-knit team than a big firm. At least that’s what I told my head of contracts, Shane, and Project Manager, Tina. They didn’t like the idea at first, thought I was mad. But then they warmed to it and steamed ahead, making plans.

When I came to my senses, it was too late. The deal was done.

“Bloody hell,” I groan, fisting my hands in my hair.

The way she sat there, so calm and unfazed. For a second, I thought she didn’t remember me. But no, there’s no way I imagined how intense that night was. It wasn’t just me who felt it. I’m an idiot. I should have just left it alone. It’s not like anything can happen between us.

Not ever.

No way in hell.

I drop and slump back into my leather desk chair, which creaks in response. I don’t even need to be at most meetings. I can let Shane and Tina handle those. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Just drop in now and then, keep my distance. I can’t risk anything further happening with Megan.

The pen I’ve picked up and been tapping on the desk gets the brunt of my frustration as I hurl it across the room. It hits the perfect white wall and sprays a jet of black ink across it. Branding it. Scarring it. The way my head feels right now. Branded with the memory of her. Scarred by the knowledge that we have no future together.

The intercom buzzes on my desk.

“Mr King?” My PA’s voice cuts into my thoughts.

I’ve told Veronica a million times to call me Jaxon, but she’s having none of it. She likes to keep things professional. She’s old school, and I admire that about her. Her work ethic is impeccable. It’ll be tough finding her replacement when she retires next year.

I hit a button, “yes, Veronica?”

“Mrs King is here to see you. Shall I send her in?”

“Please, do.”

I get up and walk around my desk as my ex-wife breezes in through the door.

“Jaxon.” She wraps her arms around me and kisses both of my cheeks. A cloud of perfume surrounds me.

“Penelope. This is a surprise.”

She smooths her blond hair with her pale pink nails. “I was in the area for a hair appointment. Just thought I’d drop in and say hello.” She removes her camel-coloured wool coat and drapes it over the arm of the large black leather sofa, which occupies one area of my office. “Have you spoken to Christopher today?” she asks as she sits down, making herself comfortable.

“Yes.” She knows I speak to our son every day.

“Did he mention anything about when he and Leah are planning to visit?” She picks at some non-existent fluff on the arm of her silk blouse.

I smirk. “Pen, I’ve told you to leave him to it. He’s a grown man.”

She arches a perfect brow at me as her cool blue eyes fix on me with a stare. “I know.” She tilts her head. “Can’t a mother be interested in her son’s life?”

“Not when that same Mother just wants to know when she will get a daughter-in-law.” I chuckle. “I’ve known you twenty-six years, Pen. I can read you like a book.”

Her eyes sparkle as the corners of her lips twitch. “Twenty-seven.”


She sighs. “You’ve known me twenty-seven years, Jaxon. Christopher just turned twenty-six. So that makes it twenty-seven now.”

I shake my head as I smile at my ex-wife. She has always been about the details. Such a careful planner—we both are. Hence why, when she fell pregnant by accident after a summer teenage fling, we were shocked. We were careful. I wouldn’t change a thing now, of course. It brought us Christopher. I’m just glad our relationship started as a friendship. Otherwise, agreeing to stay together until Christopher was an adult would have been so much harder.

“So, how are you?” she asks.

I re-arrange some things on my desk, so I don’t have to make eye contact with her. I may be able to read her like a book, but twenty-six, I mean, twenty-seven years, means she can do the same with me.

“Okay,” she mutters, changing tactics, “how’s work?”

My shoulders relax. “Work’s great. We’ve just signed a design company to work with us on the White Fire contract.”

“Oh, really? Which one?”

I clear my throat. “Articulate.”

Penelope’s brow creases. “I don’t think I’ve heard of them before. Aren’t you going to use the one you always do? In that big office down by the river?”

“No. We felt it was time to try someone new. They’ve got some very talented artists there.”

“Oh.” Penelope’s expression clears. “Well, good luck with it. I’m sure it will be a great success, just like always.” She stands up and picks up her coat. I take it from her and hold it out so she can slide it over her shoulders. “I’ll see you soon.” She heads to the door. “Oh, I almost forgot. Joanna was asking after you.”

“Thanks.” I grit my teeth at the mention of my ex-sister-in-law. “I’ll call her.”

“Okay. Speak to you soon,” Penelope says, and then she’s gone.

“Mr King?” Veronica’s face pokes around the door a second later. “You’ve got your lunch meeting with Mr Gregson in half an hour. Shall I call the car for you?”

I glance at my watch. Where does the time go? “Yes, please, Veronica. That would be great. I’ll meet the driver out front.”

I sling my suit jacket over my arm and head down in the lift.

“Marty-Boy, you look well. How’s it going?” I grin as I slap a hand on Martin’s bony back.

“Don’t lie.” He smiles. “I look like death.”

I take in his face. It’s pale, and his eyes are sunken with the extra weight he’s lost, but they’re still shining and full of mischief, as always.

“Nah. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were faking it. Playing the sympathy card with the ladies,” I joke as we take our seats in a window booth of the restaurant.

Martin smirks. “It’s lady, as you well know. And Abigail’s not falling for it anymore, either. I’m lucky to get a cup of tea made for me after a chemo session now.”

I chuckle. “So, how’s the writing coming along?”

Martin’s eyes light up. “Great. I’ve got another ten thousand words to send over to you later.”

A waitress appears to take our order. Martin goes for soup, and I order a cobb salad.

“Watching the waistline, are you? Middle-aged spread?” He sniggers as she leaves to process our order.

“Cheeky fucker,” I murmur under my breath.

Martin slaps the top of the table as he smiles. “Relax. You know you’re a good-looking bastard, even with the odd grey hair. You never seem to be short of company at night to keep you warm.”

I grimace. He’s not wrong. Before that night one month ago, I was never lonely.

“Why are you all perky today, anyway?” I raise my eyes to Martin’s face. “Did they put something extra in your drugs this week?”

“I can stomach coffee again.” He grins as though this is a scientific breakthrough of gigantic importance.

“That’s great.” I make a mental note to send a hamper to his house.

“It is, my friend, it is.” Martin leans back in his chair and rests his hands on his flat stomach.

He’s the same age as Christopher, but all the treatment has made him look older.

“So, another ten thousand words, then?” I bring the conversation back to business.

“Oh yes.” Martin beams. “It’s been flowing this week.”

The waitress returns with our drinks and gives me a lingering smile before she leaves.

I raise my glass of sparkling water to clink against Martin’s. “Congratulations on another step closer to publishing.”

“Cheers,” he replies.

He tells me about the latest instalment of the book he’s working on. I doubt I need to read the file he’s sending me later. I’m pretty sure he’s telling me it all now, word for word. I don’t stop him. It’s great seeing him so animated. Who would have known that first meeting ten years ago at a book signing would have turned into a friendship like this? Penelope thinks we hit it off so well because he reminds me of Christopher. Maybe she’s right. He’s become one of my closest friends and confidants. He’s a lot wiser than his years. Maybe that goes with the territory when you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer in your twenties.

“I’ve made the edits you and the team suggested in the last chapters I sent you,” Martin says.

I place my glass down. “Good. It’s important to us that your voice still shows through. I think it’s going to help readers connect with you.”

“You feeling charitable?” He smirks in response to my compliment.

I shake my head with a low chuckle. “Would you rather I tell you that a drunk monkey could write better than you?”

He takes a sip of his drink. “Yeah, if that’s the truth.”

I shake my head at him with a smile. “It’s not. When I say something, I mean it.”

Martin looks over at the waitress. She keeps glancing our way from behind the bar. It hasn’t escaped my attention. She’s attractive, blond hair, curvy body, exactly my usual type, but frankly, I couldn’t care less. My dick seems to be on strike.

“How much have you read then?” Martin looks back at me.

“Excuse me?”

“By drunk monkeys? You know how they write, so you must have read at least one submission?” His eyes glint at me.

“Real mature, kid.” I chuckle.

“Just helping you feel young again. Bet you’ve forgotten what anything younger than forty feels like.” He smirks.

Hell, I remember what it feels like. It feels like a beautiful redhead with pink pouty lips and skin like silk.

I push the thought of her to the back of my mind as my dick stirs—maybe it isn’t on strike after all—and turn the conversation back to Martin’s latest instalment.

I rarely coach writers like this. They usually come to me with a completed manuscript via an agent if they want to pursue the traditional publishing route. Either that or they self-publish and use our worldwide online platform to launch their writing careers.

It’s different with Martin, though. I knew when I met him, and he told me about his book, that I wanted to help him. It’s not every day someone pitches you an idea that combines cancer treatment with a series of dares written into a memoir.

He’s got a skydive coming up, and he completed a half marathon a few months ago to raise money for the centre that’s treating him. His friends had to push him in a wheelchair, and he was dressed as Dracula. But he did it.

We catch up over lunch before I insist on picking up the bill. The waitress must read the name on my Amex because when she slides the receipt down on the table, she purrs, “have a pleasant afternoon, Mr King.” I give her a curt nod as we exit. It’s only after we are outside that I see the receipt has a mobile number on it with a heart drawn next to it.

Martin smirks. “Said you still had it, didn’t I? Old man.”

I shoot him a warning look, and he shuts up, but his eyes are still glittering as we say our goodbyes. I’d rather be spending the afternoon hanging with him, but I’ve got back-to-back meetings scheduled.

“I’ll send the latest instalment over to you tonight. It can be bedtime reading for you. Unless you reconsider being tucked in by your new waitress friend, that is?” Martin winks at me.

“I look forward to it.”

I choose to ignore his comment about my night-time company. I share a lot with him, but if he knew just how blue-balled I am recently, I would never hear the end of it.

“See you later, Jax,” he calls, one hand waving in the air as he heads off up the street.

I wince as I raise a hand back. It’s not often he calls me Jax, but when he does, it always gives me that tightness in my chest. The one that’s there now.

I look up at the sky as I head back to my waiting car. “Miss you, Dad,” I mutter to the clouds overhead. Miss you every goddamn day.


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