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Drawn to Mr. King: Chapter 9


    red, I look like I’ve been holidaying on the surface of the sun. I went hard at it in my building’s basement gym and then took a shower so hot; it was almost scalding. Anything to clear my head after this afternoon.

God, the look on her face.

I hurt her. I know I did. How could I have been such an asshole? Experiencing a night like that with a woman like Megan and then never called when I said I would. Then giving her mixed signals each time I have seen her since.

She doesn’t deserve that.

I pull on a pair of sweatpants and rub the towel through my hair before grabbing a t-shirt and heading into the living area.

Martin is dropping over tonight to watch rugby. All I want to do is down a couple of pills for my cracking headache and go to bed. Who am I kidding, though? I know I won’t sleep. Plus, I can’t let Martin down. I meant what I said to Megan; I don’t go back on my word lightly. Not calling her afterwards was a huge mistake.

I’m a jerk, and now I’m paying the price.

I head to the fridge and pour myself a tall glass of ice-cold, sparkling water, gulping down half in one go. I put the bottle back in the fridge and take out the snacks I prepared for Martin’s visit—hummus, vegetable sticks, homemade sourdough bread, olives. I know he’ll take the piss, but it’s good for him. His diet is an important part of building his immune system back up again. He’s all bravado with his tough-guy act, but he knows, as I do, he must do all he can, be extra careful. If any friends have so much as a cold, he must stay away from them until they’re better. A simple bug to most people can wreak havoc on someone going through cancer treatment.

I slide onto one of the bar stools and pick my phone up, tapping my fingers on the cool marble counter with one hand as the other brings Megan’s number up in my phone.

I never lost it, if that’s what she thinks. I’ve stared at her number more than I care to remember over the last six weeks. I could just never bring myself to call it. I told myself I was being strong, doing the right thing.

What if I’m just being a fucking coward?

My thumb hovers over the green call symbol.

“Fuck’s sake,” I hiss under my breath as I drop it back onto the counter.

I’m a grown man, for God’s sake.

Okay, maybe not a call, but after her storming out of my office earlier, I should at least say something.

I type a message and hit send before I lose my nerve.

Me: Hi Megan, it’s Jaxon. I wanted to apologise for earlier. As I told you when we met, you’d think I would be better with words in my job. I just wanted to check you are okay. Can we meet up and maybe talk about it? J

I blow out a breath and stare at the screen.

Three dots show up, showing she’s writing back. I bite one thumb as the other hand keeps up the tapping on the counter.

I shouldn’t have suggested meeting up; it’s too much. Plus, it’s a bad idea. I lose control around her. Her and her pouty little lips. I’m amazed I reined myself in after grabbing her chin earlier and seeing her sweet, pink lips part for me.

Fuck, I could have easily kissed her.

But where would that have got us? Back to square fucking one.

The dots are still on the screen.

Come on, Megan. Talk to me. Tell me I’m a shit and to leave you alone. Make me stop. It’s better for both of us that way.

The dots stop, but no message comes through.

She’s not going to reply.

“Shit,” I mutter, dropping my chin to my chest.

Maybe she didn’t need to type it. Her silence surely tells me. I need to keep away from her.


Even though it’s the right thing to do, it still feels shit.

“Yes!” Martin shouts, pumping a first in the air as England score a try.

I plaster a smile on my face and try to look thrilled that our team is winning when really my mind is as far away from the game on TV as it can be.

“What’s got into you?” Martin eyes me as he plucks an olive out of a bowl of the coffee table.

“Nothing, just busy at work.” I shrug.

“You’re a shit liar, you know that?” Martin says as he reaches for another olive. “Although you do good snacks. Suppose I should have expected as such from a posh old dude.”

“Watch who you’re calling old,” I say, launching the remote at him.

He catches it in one hand and laughs.

“And I’m not posh.”

“You studied at Oxford,” Martin says, as though this proves his point. “You had terribly posh boat races for fun. The rest of us went to the local pub and got twatted on cheap lager.”

“Nice use of the English language there, my friend.” I shake my head with a chuckle.

“At least I can talk about stuff, you know, like a normal person. You should try it sometime.”

I lift my gaze to his face. He’s got one eyebrow raised in amusement.

“Fine,” I cross my arms over my chest, “what do you want to talk about?”

“How about, why you look like you can smell shit?”

“What are you talking about?”

He points at me. “That look on your face. Yes, that one you’re doing now.”

“This is just my face, Martin.”

He ignores me and carries on. “You’ve got your forehead all creased, and you’re glaring like you want to kill someone. You’ll deepen those wrinkles if you keep it up.”

I let out a low chuckle. “You’re a cheeky fucker. Remind me why we’re friends again?”

“You feel sorry for me because I have cancer,” he fires back.

I stretch my arms above my head and sink back into the sofa.

“Don’t flatter yourself. Your cancer’s smaller than a pea now. You’re not going anywhere soon. Not unless you say I’ve got wrinkles again, then I’ll kill you myself.”

Martin’s shoulders are shaking as he holds in his laugh.

I catch his eye, and he grins at me.

“What is it then, Jax?”

I wince. “It was Dad’s birthday the other day.”

“Ah.” Martin nods in understanding. “How was your mum?”

I shrug. “Same as usual, upbeat, wore his favourite colour.”

“Sorry, man. I know it doesn’t get any easier.” Martin sighs.

I cast my eyes back to the scrum taking place on the pitch.

The game’s almost over.

The kit of the England team, which was white at kick-off, is now covered in mud and grass stains. Kind of like a twelve-year-old me. Shiny and full of hope, until I was knocked for six in a tackle and came up battered and stained.

“Nope, it still hurts like shit if you let it.” I reach forward and take a sip of my water.

“You can say that again,” Martin agrees. “Hey, do you think our dads are up there having a beer together, looking down on us?”

“Yours would tell you to wash your feet,” I say, screwing up my nose as I push Martin’s socked foot off my coffee table.

He laughs. “Yours would tell you to get yourself laid. Give you something to smile about.” Martin looks over at my face when I don’t respond. “Come on, like I haven’t noticed the lack of female company you’ve had recently,” he says. His eyes dart around my apartment as though checking to make sure it really is only the two of us. “What happened to Sindy?”

“Shelley,” I correct him.

“Yeah, what happened to her? She had an impressive set of—” Martin holds his hands up in front of his chest.

I throw a cushion at him. “That’s no way to talk about a woman.”

“Sorry, Dad.” He holds his hands up. “You know what I mean, though.”

I smirk. Shelley certainly had assets that got her noticed before anything else she did or said. Too bad they were her best assets.

“When she asked me if Jane Austen was a brand of shampoo, I realised we had little in common,” I say.

His eyebrows shoot up as he grins at me. “Seriously? Even I know who she is! Abigail loves the whole Mr Darcy thing.”

“That’s because Abigail is an intelligent, well-read woman. What she sees in you, I’ll never understand.”

The cushion flies back over and hits my chest.

“We’re talking about you here, old guy. Surely your balls haven’t shrivelled up yet?” Martin looks at me, refusing to let it drop.

“Fine.” I look up at the ceiling. “There is a woman.”

“I knew it.” He stares at me expectantly.

“Don’t get excited. Nothing’s happening. It can’t.” I reach up and rub my eyes.

“Why not? Is she married?”

“God, no, of course not. What do you take me for?” I tut.

“What’s the problem then?”

I blow out a long breath. “I work with her, for a start.”

“So? Loads of people meet at work.” Martin shrugs, reaching for another snack.

“It’s just complicated.”

I drop my head back against the sofa and close my eyes. My headache has eased, but when I close my eyes, I can still feel the niggle lurking at the base of my skull.

“Nothing’s too complicated with the right person.”

I peel open an eye and fix it on Martin.

“What? I’m just saying. Abigail makes me see things differently.”

“I’m pleased for you, I am.” I smile, closing my eye again. Martin, the romantic who’d have thought?

“Is she unaffected by the King charm then?” he asks, not letting it drop.

“There’s no such thing. But if there was, then yes. She is. I swear she looks more pissed off every time I’m in the same room as her,” I answer.

“I like her already! What’s her name?”

I open both eyes and look at him.

“Fine, don’t tell me if you don’t want to—”

“Megan,” I cut in as I close my eyes again. “Her name’s Megan.”

“Megan,” Martin repeats, saying her name slowly. It’s ridiculous and unwarranted, but the sound of another man saying her name has the niggle right back at the front of my skull, taking centre stage.

What the hell has gotten into me?

After Martin leaves, I tidy up the living area, straightening the cushions before putting all the dishes in the dishwasher and setting it going.

Leaning against the newly disinfected kitchen counter, I bring up my text message to Megan.

She still hasn’t replied.

It’s a good thing. It will make this easier if she pushes me away, keeps me from getting close to her.

Because God knows, I am doing a shit job of it myself.

I close the messages and load up the website for the florist who did Dad’s forget-me-nots. I put through an order for twelve orange tulips. They symbolise peace and forgiveness. If Megan considers either, then I will count myself lucky.

But then… that’s it.

I have to leave it, leave her alone.

I can smooth things over with a peace offering and then walk away.



Move on.

I head to bed and set the alarm for six to get a workout in before I work from home for the day.

Sure, it’s a Sunday, but I’ve got a load of work piling up. Guess that’s what happens when your head is invaded by a redhead who steals any coherent thoughts from you, rendering you useless.

I sink back against the pillows. The pounding in my head eases, but only marginally. I need to chill the hell out. I’ll be giving myself a hernia at this rate.

I lay on my side facing the floor to ceiling windows that make up one wall. I’ve left the blinds open tonight. Sometimes I like watching the city lights as I go to sleep. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it reminds me that life is going on out there beyond these four walls.

Life always goes on, even when I feel like mine has stalled.


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