Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

His mother's voice cut through the air like a scalpel, "Daxton Matthew Cavenaugh, don't you ever do that to me again."

She stepped around him, into his path, her finger already jabbing in his direction. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen his mother angry. Now, seeing the danger in her face, he remembered why. His mother was scary when she was angry. "I've never been so embarrassed in my life! My own son abandoning me--what all those people must think!"

He steeled his spine. "Who cares what they think? They know nothing about us except the digits in our bank account."

He didn't want to do this here. Not on a sidewalk in the middle of the city with people mingling around, watching them. So he put a hand on his mother's upper back and led her to the side, around the corner of Gibsons. There was a skinny alley between the restaurant and the boutique next door--he used it to his advantage.

Catherine sniffed at the choice, but said nothing as he continued, "I don't give a rat's ass what those people think. And you never used to either."

He thought she'd snipe at him for the language, but instead she said, "Your father has made sure we are ahead financially. With that comes a reputation we need to uphold."

"Since when do you care about what people think? Mother--"

"Your father thinks--"

"Stop. Just stop." His mother hadn't always been about money--when he was a kid, she used to encourage him to do hard work, to find ways around money. What had changed? When had she begun to justify it? "I don't care what he thinks. Mom--" he swallowed around the rock that had found it's way to his throat. "Is this how you want our lives to go? Are we supposed to let the money dictate our decisions? Because I don't think I can do it. I can't sell myself to this company and to a relationship I don't believe in."

Catherine deflated, hugging her arms to her chest. "That's it, isn't it? You're not happy with Carrie, or the decision we've made."

"I was part of this decision too," he admitted reluctantly, "I signed the contract. But at the time I didn't care. Things have changed."

She flicked her gaze behind him, watching the people passing and the boutique's entrance. When she came back to him, her lips thinned. "I've realized a few things lately, Daxton. One of them is that love is important. And you're right, your father and I have been so caught up in the business and what we think is right for you but...you're twenty-two years old. Someday, you're going to be the head of Cavenaugh Productions. And you're going to need someone at your side who supports you. Someone who loves you, who can tell you when enough is enough, or when you're head is getting too big. Someone you can be honest--" her voice cracked, yet she kept going, "--honest with. I don't think Carrie is that person."

All the weight in his chest left, and he felt lighter than he had in awhile. Maybe, maybe his mother was starting to see. "I've made a mistake," he said, "and I don't know how to fix it."

"I will talk to your father. We will figure this out, Daxton," she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I want you to be happy. And not trapped in a marriage, especially if..." she stopped, then shook her head, "especially if you find your mate."

The word made Daxton's mind sharpen. "I thought...I thought you and dad didn't believe in mates."

She smiled at him. It looked fake on her, like more of a failed attempt than a genuine expression. "I've been learning a lot of things recently."

He grabbed his mother in a tight hug. Their conversation whittled down from there. As he led her back to the car and returned to the office, he kept thinking about how somber his mother looked as her car drove away.

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