Chapter One

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There had to be some sort of mistake.

Zack couldn't even remember her, this woman that he had supposedly slept with. Samantha Maverick wasn't a name that he recognised—and he tried to make a point of remembering the names of all the women he had taken to bed. The first he had heard of her had been a week and a half ago, when his lawyer had called him requesting a DNA sample so she could prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he had not fathered the woman's child. It was a matter he and the guys had laughed about that very same night, right before he'd pushed the matter to the back of his mind and promptly forgotten.

But the test had come back positive.

Zack returned the phone to his pocket automatically. Shock: that was his initial reaction to the news. How could this have happened? Disbelief laced his every thought, but he knew his lawyer well enough to know that she would never have delivered the life-altering news unless she was absolutely certain it was true.

He had a son.

The boy was fifteen-years-old and had just lost his mother. His maternal grandparents were dead, and he had no uncles or aunts that he knew of. He had named Zachary Bennett as his father, and now that this had been proven true it was expected the boy would be coming to live with him. Zack had been given two days to prepare himself for the boy's arrival. Two days to prepare himself to be a father.

If the unopened bottle of Jack in the kitchen hadn't been inviting before, it certainly was now.

The panic was slowly sinking in. Zack knew there were people out there who became parents as teenagers and adapted easily to their new roles, but at thirty-three he still didn't feel ready—and he definitely didn't appreciate being thrown into the deep end. There had been a stab of anger when he'd learned that Samantha Maverick had kept the existence of the boy from him, but now he found himself wishing that he was still blissfully ignorant. Anything was better than this.

Two rooms away, his friends were oblivious to the complicated mess his life had just become. Their conversation went on, undisturbed by anything but the occasional clink of glass as somebody set their beer down on the counter. Zack hated the thought of shattering that peaceful atmosphere, but there would be no way around it. With only two days to prepare for the arrival of his son, he was going to need all the help he could get.

He made his way back into the kitchen.

Aaron was the first to notice his re-entrance. The young drummer smiled by way of welcome, but that expression slipped when he saw the look on Zack's face. His dark brow furrowed and those cerulean eyes filled with concern. That drew the attention of the rest of the band, who swivelled their heads to follow his gaze. 

Zack strolled past all four of his friends as he spotted exactly what he needed. The bottle was cracked open before anybody had a chance to say a word.

Pat was on his feet immediately, six-foot-three of undiluted worry. 'Dude, what's wrong?'

Zack had already downed half the bottle of Jack by the time the singer had the sense to take it from him. 

He looked around at his band mates—two of whom had been in his life for so long that he couldn't remember being without them—and knew that he would be fine as long as they had his back. And he knew they always would. They always had

He returned to his seat, absently running a hand through his mess of dark hair. After assessing him for several moments, Pat returned to his own place. The Jack sat a safe distance away, the lid back on securely. Brendan reached out and gave his shoulder a squeeze. Zack sent him a tentative smile of thanks.

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