My head spun, and I looked at my son through blurred vision.

“Work…” I muttered, barely getting the words out. “Back to work.” I pointed towards the door.

“You have to go?” Lila said, meaning it more as a statement.

I knew if I left, then it was probably over. I had blown my last chance with either of them. But I couldn’t stay. I just needed time and space to think. To process it all.

“Yes,” I said, slowly standing, reaching out to grab a bookcase as I did.

Gently ruffling Billy’s hair, I walked out of the library and into the chilly night. I needed to run. Running always cleared my head and made it easier to think. I took off like a man being chased by something horrible, not stopping until I got back to my building, overshooting the door by several feet.

Lucky was there like he always was. The one thing I could count on. I scratched him behind the ear and went into the kitchen. Getting out the bottle of scotch, I half filled a mug and sat on the couch. Setting the forbidden cup on the coffee table, I stared at it.

Getting out my phone, I started to dial my father then thought better of it ending the call. I was angry. No one bothered to tell me I had a son. Not even my father. Then it hit me. My father didn’t know. He couldn’t have. He certainly would have provided for his grandson. His pride wouldn’t let him do otherwise.

I couldn’t blame Lila either. I had left her, and she thought I was dead. Of course, she moved on. Even if she had, she wouldn’t have dad’s resources. Not that he was coming after me either. He was really stubborn that way. I had to make the first move. There was no one to blame but myself and no one to punish.

Picking up the mug, I downed it in one go. The bitter taste and burning sensation slamming into the back of my throat, enough to make me wonder why I had ever liked the stuff, let alone drank it to excess. It really was awful.

My head lulled back as I gasped for breath against the heat. The mug slipped from my hand and clattering to the floor. I looked over at the window. I had never tried but was pretty sure it opened all the way. I lived on the fifth floor. It was a long way down with a cement sidewalk at the bottom. It wasn’t the first time I’d thought this way. Only on the previous occasions, I’d still had something to live for. Now I knew I had a family. One I was likely not going to see again.

It was bad enough having Lila mad at me. She had always been my best friend, now she could barely stand to be around me. I had often wondered if it had been a mistake for us to get together but had come to the conclusion that it hadn’t been the problem. For us to end up together was just a natural progression.

The issue had been me and what I had become. I still secretly blamed my dad for that. Not only had I inherited his addictive personality, if I hadn’t worked at his casino, it seemed unlikely that I would have developed my addiction in the first place. Still, though, I was the one who started play and didn’t stop until it was too late. Even a drug dealer knew it was bad business to get high on your own supply. Sure, Dad could have banned me from gambling at his casinos. He had the power as the owner, but that really wasn’t his style. He had always tried to teach me to be my own man and take responsibility for myself. Something I was never really very good at.

I was just about to do something really drastic, even more drastic than having my first drink in two years when Lucky hopped up onto the couch. He nudged my hand with his little paw, insisting that I pet him. I smiled and stroked his furry head as he crawled up onto my lap, curled up into a contented little ball, and went to sleep. At least someone still liked me. Maybe I wasn’t irredeemable after all. I understood if Lila didn’t want to be with me. Though I was determined to be part of Billy’s life. I just had to find a way to try and make things up to Lila first.

Chapter Eight

Lila

I had heard about the trials and tribulations that insomniacs had to suffer, especially chronic cases. Though there was little I wouldn’t have given to be among their number. The dreams really were that bad. It didn’t help that I had also cried myself to sleep.


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