“When she first told me about you a few years ago,” Sam says, crossing his legs under the covers and shifting more toward me. “She said you only have one true love in a lifetime, and you were hers. I don’t understand how you don’t feel the same way if that’s true.”

Well, shit.

Talk about a rock and a hard place.

Leighton thinks I was her soul mate?

Sam is throwing out deep revelations, and the one thing I know my kid appreciates is honesty. Leaning forward, I place my forearms on the bedrails and rest my chin on them. “Listen, bud… that was a long time ago. Circumstances changed. Your mom and I are different people now. Just because we loved each other ten years ago, it doesn’t mean we can recreate that magic.”

“But you haven’t even tried,” he asserts, and well… that’s true.

I’m not the kind of guy who goes for love and romance anymore, but I can’t tell my kid that. I don’t want him to think that’s the norm.

Instead, I fib just a little. “Your mom and I are starting over. We’re going to try friendship and being your parents first, then we’ll see what happens.”

Sam scoots closer toward me, eyes full of such pure innocence that chills shoot down my spine. “If you’d just give her a chance, I know you can learn to love her again.”

Before I can respond, I’m saved by the ringing of my phone. I look over to where I’d set it on the bedside table, seeing Declan’s name flash on the screen.

It’s not urgent, because nothing with Declan ever is, but it’s the perfect escape. Nabbing the phone, I tell Sam, “I need to take this. Be right back.”

I head into the hallway, answering as I go. “What’s up, man?”

“Not much,” Declan replies, and I can tell by the tinny buzz on the line he’s in his car. “Just checking in. Haven’t seen you at The Wicked Horse lately.”

“Been busy with Sam,” I reply, glancing into the room. Sam’s playing a game on his iPad.

“How is he?”

I take a few moments to fill Declan in. He had texted me before the transplant, but we haven’t talked since then.

“Sounds like he’s doing great,” Declan says. “Which sounds like a good reason to come out to the club. I met this redhead last night who can bend and twist in all kinds of ways that will blow your mind.”

Chuckling, I shake my head and lower my voice. “Sorry, dude… I’m on hospital duty tonight with the kid. Raincheck?”

“Sure,” he replies easily. “But your balls have got to be turning blue.”

Hardly, I think. I jack off plenty to mental porn of the night in Leighton’s hotel room, fucking her from behind while she orgasmed the minute I plunged my finger in her ass.

That has completely sustained me, but I can’t lie… I miss the club and the freakiness that goes on there.

“Soon,” I promise. “I’ll hit you up when I can find some time to make it out there.”

Which should be soon. Sam’s doing well, so there’s no reason I can’t visit The Wicked Horse again.

CHAPTER 14

Leighton

I rinse my plate and put it in the dishwasher, adding the fork and knife I had used to the basket. Closing the door, I press the rinse cycle since it’s not full enough to run the wash cycle. The rest of the kitchen is pristine, and it doesn’t need more attention. It’s the side benefit of eating a microwaved meal.

Of course, I did actually dirty a plate rather than eating straight from the plastic tray. For some reason, I feel a little more accomplished at taking care of myself when eating from an actual plate even if my entire meal only took three minutes and thirty seconds to prepare.

Regardless, I’m at least eating consistently and getting decent rest, which is part of my new plan to take better care of myself.

It’s been thirteen days since Sam’s transplant, and we’ve all finally settled into a good routine. We set up a schedule between me, August, and my father so Sam is never alone at the hospital. We decided each of us would do two nights in the hospital with him while the others alternate those two days. The next person would then do two nights while the others covered the days. It essentially gave each of us two nights on and four days off night duty, which is frankly the hardest. That’s because Sam mostly sleeps through the night while whoever pulled that shift struggles to find a few moments of rest in a horribly uncomfortable recliner chair.

Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We may be a broken, dysfunctional family, but we have come together to make sure Sam is never alone.

Returning to the idea of trying to take better care of myself was a necessity after I almost collapsed following Sam’s transplant. The seven days he’d completed chemotherapy prior to it were a hell I don’t want to go through again. To be honest, it was my own fault. August repetitively tried to get me out of the hospital to get some rest, but I refused. He also tried to get me to eat, but I wasn’t interested. Kind of hard to have an appetite when my child is vomiting from the drugs they’ve pumped into him. My body was so worn and broken down after that week, I’d known if I didn’t change my habits I wouldn’t be any good to Sam over the rest of his hospitalization.

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