Journal 20: The Fated

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A/N: Hi everyone! Thanks for checking out another journal entry from Brandon. This one covers the end of Chapters 23 and 24 in TMMM. I hope you enjoy!

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Do I believe in fate?

I believe that's a question I've never been asked before, not even by my sisters with all their fanciful ideas about romance growing up. Probably because not a lot of people would think I'd ever deign to answer that question. It might be my starched-up image or my iron-like grip on logic about everything.

But since meeting Charlotte, I've gotten other ideas. I've definitely gotten the hint that there are forces much bigger and more powerful than myself at work here. After all, if it had only been up to me, I would've never run into Charlotte, much less ever consider someone like her in my life. I don't even want to think about what I would've missed out on.

I flew home half a day early to see Charlotte after the rambling message she'd left me. Francis had made his move. She didn't have to tell me for me to know. I was thinking of a half dozen ways to tear him up from limb to limb on my flight home but I decided I couldn't do murder during a nice family dinner. He was provoking me into it though, his self-control so frayed he was practically foaming on the mouth with threats. Sneaky was usually Francis's style so something's got his panties up in a bunch. If I stepped away from my constantly furious state around him, just for a moment, I could almost see him as a man being shoved in front of a speeding train by an invisible but powerful hand. Which now makes me wonder about his real agenda. I thought I knew what it was all this time but something's changed. Something's got him desperate. Desperate enough that even if all his manipulation goes to hell and takes him with it, he's going to grab anyone he could with him along the way. It's hard to trust that whatever's different is for the better. How could I trust a man so hellbent on ruining me he would hurt his own family to do it?

I know he'd been sniffing around me for years, always looking for an opportunity to hurt me. And I've been careful but somehow he still managed to put a mole right under my nose. I hardly knew Gwen. I barely saw her. But she'd been close enough to get her hands on a very important document—one I should've burned the day I decided that I wanted the farce to be true. I've contemplated ways to hit him back for it but I had to remind myself that while I have something at stake, I'm not the only one who could get hurt here.

In the end, no matter how I feel about it, the decision will have to be Nicole's.

I've decided that maybe it's time to trust the very people I care about to fight their own fight. It will suck, watching them possibly get hurt or fail. But after thinking things through about my own lack of good judgement when I tried to keep Charlotte out of this fray, I realized that maybe the best thing I can do for someone is to trust them to be strong and smart about their decisions. Maybe that'll help them be more confident about their life choices, and hopefully encourage them to make the right ones. My sisters, my baby brother, my wife—I can spend my whole life sheltering them. But sheltering them isn't the same as strengthening them. I only have to look at Charlotte to know that even if the roof over her head blows away, she'll still weather the storm because she's actually strong.

Oh, I don't mean that I'll just bum around by the sidelines. All I'm saying is that they don't have to be put in a box and sealed shut from their own fates. They have to be there, behind the wheel. They might have to endure my less than agreeable navigational advice but at least they'd be driving.

And to start on that new resolution, I told Charlotte everything. And as expected, she refused to save her own neck over Nicole's and Zach's. But maybe she won't have to. If Nicole decides she can face Francis and prepare herself for his inevitable admission to Zach's life, then Francis will have no reason to let the secret out—at least until he finds something else to bargain for with it. It's a fight that probably will never end while he's out for my blood. I'll do my best to prevent the eventual disaster but Charlotte and I will have to be ready. That secret will one day come out—whether by someone's greedy intent or our own decision to come clean.

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