Chapter Fourteen

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You don't know me and you don't own me. But I'm lonely and I feel like you owe me. –Jackson Killian

Chapter Fourteen

"Just say it, Kit."

We glared at each other. My morning coffee rusted in my mouth and the undersides of my arms were cool with sweat.

"You want me to drag your ugly history out for Abby to see? You want me to talk about... things, when I don't think it will impact your ability to be a good dad... or a bad dad? I won't. If you want her to know. You tell her."

My voice was thin and quavery.

"Look at magnanimous Kit. She alone decides who should know what. Who should do what. Her decisions reign." Jack was snide. I could see the petulant boy he must've once been. The boy who gave back-talk to teachers and tested his mother's patience. The man who ran through women like Kleenex. The man who spilled his rage and regret into music like he was the only one who ever felt anything.

"I don't feel that way."

"You act that way."

I actually pressed my palm to my face, covering one cheek and eye. The good fight was making me flushed; frustration was making me shake. This whole session was futile.

I hadn't seen or heard from Jack in the three days that separated our first mediation from this one. When I'd met him outside Abby's office, there was no greeting, no chatter. We sat like stones, strangers who knew the dank wormy darkness underneath the weight we both carried around.

In our silence, we hated each other.

And then Abby Shane's first instruction was for us to communicate with each other while she observed. As if we could without blame and accusation. I looked at her; I looked at Jack. Jack looked at me. Then he looked at Abby. We didn't speak.

She'd prompted us. Asking us to focus on sharing our goals for Quinn and our expectations of each other. Within three minutes, we were hurling hurt at each other as if we were the last two standing in a dodgeball competition.

"You perceive my actions that way because you can't see anything from anyone's point of view but your own. And your own is always self-consumed." I wanted to hold the words back but couldn't. My emotional bruises were throbbing, demanding acknowledgement.

"There's the pot calling the kettle black." All those beautiful T's. Just a breath to let you know they were there. Just a whisper of Ireland. The T at the end of Kit always seemed to be made of smoke.

Jack swiveled away from me to face Abby. "Look Abby. I'm no saint, either. Kate doesn't want to mention it because in her elevated opinion she feels it isn't relevant. It's maybe you who should decide. I dragged out all the demons about her I could think of last time. Even... even maybe some that aren't there. But I have demons too. Real demons. Relevant demons."

There was no contrition in his voice; it was coarse and accusatory, though accusatory towards himself. But still I wanted to forgive him. I guess Abby did too.

"Jackson, no one expects you and Kate to be perfect. People are flawed, and therefore parents are flawed too."

"Well, some more than most."

"True. Some more than most." She leaned forward, forearms crossed on the desk. "Do you feel that your history presents a danger to your child?"

"No. I mean, I don't think so. But I think Kate should be concerned about it. I think she should want to know what my plans are to... to stay sober. And to be invested in Quinn. To be there for him and not spending big chunks of the year on the road. Her calling it irrelevant is, well, it's just wrong."

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