A/N: Hi everyone. Sorry for the long wait. Summer's always tricky because there's so much to do. I was away on a quick, spontaneous trip so I didn't get around to posting.
By the way, thank you to everyone who joined me on my Periscope broadcast last July 16. It was nerve-wracking at first but it became real fun when people started interacting with me. If you missed it, you can find it on Wattpad's YouTube page.
Anyway, here you go! Enjoy!
Ever since I was a boy, I'd thought my father to be a great, powerful man. Invincible, you know, as most parents seem to us when we're young and small.
And even as years passed, I don't think the way I saw him ever changed, even as he got older and physically weaker. Sure, he's been having health issues and sure I conveniently used that excuse when I was baiting Charlotte but in my mind, Dad remained much invincible—until he no longer was.
Through the angioplasty and a couple of mild attacks, I had no real concern that Dad wouldn't make it. Surviving two wives, raising three children mostly on his own, running an empire—nothing kept Martin Maxfield down too long. He was too stubborn to die.
But it didn't sink in on me that he might not get a choice on the matter until he was rushed to the hospital after a very serious heart attack the night after mine and Charlotte's wedding.
Suddenly, I realized just how much time I've already lost with him and how little I might still have left.
As I sullenly sat in that prison cell, regretting nothing of Francis's well-deserved payback and wondering where the hell my wife and lawyers were, I realized that I might lose my father as abruptly as I'd lost my mother and Evelyn.
That realization filled my stomach with cold, heavy dread. I've been through a lot in my life, both good and bad, and Dad's the one person who's been there from the start and for every single thing.
I'm not prepared to lose him.
When Francis had so casually dismissed the grim possibility by planning out the the future as if Dad was just cooling in a grave, I saw nothing but red—the same bright richness of his blood that I'd been ready to splatter on the hospital floor.
Francis is really starting to deserve a cushier place in hell. First for abandoning his child and his child's mother—a woman who still loves him for God knows what reason. Second, for his callous attitude about Dad—a man who'd been there for him all these years despite the stupid things he did. And third, for his crude treatment of Charlotte when he wasn't even fit to lick the ground she walked on. If he kept this up, I wouldn't wait for his timely descent to hell. I'll push him right off the edge and kick him in for good measure.
But Dad would've wanted me to do better so I was glad I hadn't killed Francis right then and there. It was an extremely foul experience but I was glad for the lukewarm coffee shower Charlotte saw us fit to suffer through.
That thought was the only thing that made me smile in the two hours I sat in jail so even if I would never tell my wife how wise that move was for fear of inspiring her too much with the same strategy in the future, I was still grateful to Charlotte.
It was then that it hit me that Dad could die anytime soon and he wouldn't know the whole truth about me and Charlotte. And then I wondered further if it mattered how we began when we turned out what we wanted all along anyway—or at least I hope we're going that way. But then, I still don't know if Charlotte will stay with me at the end of the year. I'm hoping with all I've got that she will but there are no guarantees at this point. If she chooses to walk away because it's what will make her happy, I'll have no choice but to let her and I don't want Dad to go thinking everything was great only to look down and find us living separate lives. And to be honest, I wouldn't put it past him to haunt us from the afterlife if only to meddle.
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