Ever since my divorce became final, I decided to start putting myself first. The problem is when I think of putting myself first, I think of my son’s biological father, Thatcher Patterson. The man that wanted nothing to do with me when he found out I was pregnant.
When he left me, he took my heart with him and I’ve never gotten it back.
Suddenly my son and I are forced to live with Thatcher indefinitely and it’s difficult to remember all the reasons why I don’t trust him. The way he looks at me, the way he is with our son and the way he makes me feel are all the reasons I’m running toward him instead of away from him.
But if I run toward him, how long will it take for him to up and run the other way from us, much like he did before?
I’ve never stopped loving Abigail Murphy or wishing I could be the perfect dad to my son. So, when a stipulation in my late grandfather’s will states that I must have an heir to claim my inheritance, it’s the push I need to get them in my life.
Because I need them as much as I need that money. With my business in the red, I have no other option. As the deadline creeps closer, I never counted on the guilt I would feel at trying to get a two for one deal. When the two of them move in with me, I’m reminded of all the wonderful things this woman has to offer and all the emotions she makes me feel.
She makes me feel worthy. Wanted. Loved. She makes me feel like I could be the man she needs and just maybe I could be the father my son deserves – the father I’ve been so afraid to be.
I shifted the bins for his inspection and Thayer seemed satisfied with my explanation. When I caught sight of Abby watching us, a sharp pain stabbed me right in my gut. Her furrowed brows had me guessing that she no doubt was wondering what our lives would’ve been like if things were different. Heck, I was wondering that myself right now as Thayer brushed up against my leg, almost settling into me so he could examine his new turtle’s home. This was as close as we’d ever been as a family. This moment, this proximity to one another, making a decision families made all the time regarding new pets.
If I leaned over just enough, I could pull the two of them in for a family hug. Nuzzle my days old beard into Abby’s delicate neck and tousle Thayer’s blond hair with my fingertips. It was an urge I’d never experienced and seeing the look on Abby’s face, I knew she was thinking along the same lines as me. Why? Why couldn't we be a family? Why couldn't we try? Because if she found out I was going to push to gain custody of Thayer, she’d run as far away from me as she could get.
I swallowed, “How’s Adrian doing?”
“He’s good. He’s out of town for a few days right now.”
“Daddy’s gone but he’ll be back to see my turtle, right Mama?”
That stabbing pain I felt only moments ago resurfaced and settled into my chest as I watched Thayer’s face light up with excitement at the thought of showing his dad his turtle. His dad. Not me. It would never be me because I’d given up that right five years ago when Abby told me she was pregnant with him.
“Yeah, of course buddy. He’ll be home in two days for you to show him.”
She wouldn't look at me and I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking about. Did she resent me as much as I resented myself? No. She was happy with Adrian. They made their relationship work. The few times I've run into her around Lone Star, she was always happy. Always smiling, always giddy with excitement and I couldn't help but think about her when she was my girl. How she’d rarely, if ever, gotten angry at people because she was genuinely happy all the time. I’d never met anyone like her.
I'd stayed as far away from her and Thayer as I could because, well, for the obvious reasons. I had to give them up. The more I saw of Abby, the more that flame burned deep inside me, begging for Abby to be the one to extinguish it. I’ve been doing a great job of ignoring it so far.
About the Author
Ashley Bostock was born and raised in Colorado where she currently resides with her husband, two children and her animals. She loves reading, writing, and music and is always trying to find more time in the day to incorporate all three.
Seeking an outlet and pursuing her life-long passion for writing, she began composing her first novel in 2013. She has traveled all over the world, but still has an extensive list of places she would love to visit. Anywhere near a sky-blue ocean will always be at the top of that list.
She carries a Bachelor’s Degree in History with a concentration in Elementary Education from Metropolitan State College of Denver. While she loves children, she now fears teaching, which probably has something to do with being a stay-at-home mom.
She is mostly active on Instagram, but feel free to follow her at any or all of her social media pages!