Roman:A Cold Fury Hockey Novel(6)

By: Sawyer Bennett

“That can’t be,” he rasps out in astonishment, his eyes rounding with surprise.

To be fair, it sounds more like shock than denial.

He doesn’t throw me out of his office.

He doesn’t even call me a liar.

He looks neither fearful nor pissed off.

Instead, Brian Brannon just stares at me with utter confusion on his face.

I nod my head slowly. “You dated my mother twenty-seven years ago. For only about two months. Your wife had died just the year before, and she told me that you broke it off with her because you said you just weren’t able to move on from your wife.”

“That’s right,” he whispers as he stands up from his chair and runs a hand through his short, dark hair with silver streaking the temples. His back is to me and his shoulders are slumped. “But she wasn’t pregnant.”

“She was but didn’t know it when you broke things off,” I tell him. “She found out a few weeks later.”

“She didn’t tell me,” he says as he turns on me. His eyes roam my face, perhaps trying to see if he sees anything of himself in me.

While I have my mom’s coloring as well as her cheekbones and lips, I’ve stared at Brian Brannon’s picture enough to know I’ve inherited his chin and nose. It’s the same as Gray’s, and I know this because I’ve stared at her picture too.

“Why didn’t she tell me?” he asks, and finally I hear a bit of anger in his voice. I figured it would appear at some point, because let’s face it, I just dropped a hell of a bomb in his lap and then detonated it.

“You made it clear to her that you didn’t want a relationship,” I tell him with my Brannon chin lifted in the air, and he actually winces at the reminder. “You broke her heart because you couldn’t let her inside, and she didn’t want to burden you further with a baby.”

“A child never would have been a burden,” he growls at me, even more pissed now. He takes two steps toward the chair and sits back down. He extends his hand…perhaps to take mine or perhaps to lay it on my shoulder again in a show of fatherly affection, but then decides against it, dropping it back down to the armrest. “Why are you just coming to me now?”

Good question. I’m twenty-six years old and meeting my father for the first time. I debated long and hard whether or not to do this, but as the months rolled by after my mom died, I couldn’t stop thinking about Brian Brannon. I’d read everything I could about him and he seemed like a decent guy. And here I was, without any family left except a distant aunt and a handful of cousins I didn’t know all that well, and I just wanted to have someone.

I was simply lonely.

And even more than that, I was always seeking the next grand adventure. I felt that Brian Brannon was a wondrous chapter just waiting to be read in my book of life.

I cough slightly to clear my throat. “I didn’t know about you until just before my mom died. She was sick for a long time, and as the end was approaching, she told me about you. I was just as shocked as you are now.”

“But you said she died ten months ago,” he says softly.

I want to say I hear a slight degree of skepticism in his voice, but I don’t see it in his eyes. I have no clue what he must be feeling, but I guess I’ll find out sooner or later before I walk out of here. So I tell him the truth. “I was scared, to be honest. Not sure you’d believe me. Accept me. I moved to Raleigh from Hartford about three months after my mom died, but it never seemed the right time to approach you. I don’t want anything from you, or Gray for that matter, but I just thought…”

My voice trails off, as I’m too terrified to put my desires out there. I’m strong, but I still have some fears, I guess.

He’s having none of it, though. “Thought what, Lexi?”

“I don’t want to mess your life up or anything,” I assure him hastily. I see a flicker of annoyance in his eyes, but I keep barreling forward. “I was hoping…I don’t know…maybe we could have dinner every once in a while.”

“You want dinner?” he asks slowly.


“I don’t want your money,” I snap at him, and feel tears start to sting my eyes.

Brian offers a sympathetic smile and then his hand is on my shoulder again, giving me a warm squeeze. “You want a family.”

My head drops and I stare at my lap, blinking my eyes hard so I don’t cry. I nod and say, “And you seemed like the type of man who would want to know.”

Another squeeze to my shoulder, and when his hand falls away, I look over at him. He leans back in the chair and stretches his legs out, staring up at the ceiling. He expels a mighty breath of air from his lungs and murmurs, “Well, I have to say…I don’t know that I’ve ever received such a shock before in my life.”

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