Fall Back Skyward (Fall Back #1)(4)

Written By: Autumn Grey



No.

He couldn’t have said what I think he did. My eyes are playing tricks on me. “What did you just say?”

He slides the card I’d tossed on the counter seconds ago toward me. With my heart racing in my chest, I stare down, confusion then disbelief sweeping through me as my eyes catch the words on the card.

Hi Cole,

Cora and Joce celebrated their sixth birthday on Saturday. Cora reminds me so much of you. I want them to know their real father. I want them to call you ‘Daddy’ but how can they do that if you won’t even reply back to my letters? I beg you to think about this, please.

Love, Nor.

How is that even possible?

I shake my head, forcing my mind to calculate the years we’ve been apart. The last time Nor and I were together.

Exactly nine years.

Jesus.

I’ve been a father all this time. I missed most of their childhood.

A lump forms in my throat and my muscles quiver as anguish and anger course through me.

Do they know about me?

I snatch the blue envelope it came in and scan for the mailing date. The black stamp indicates it was mailed three years ago. Suddenly I can’t seem to catch my breath fast enough as I scatter the letters on the counter with shaking fingers, searching for the letter with the oldest date on it. Simon seems to read my mind and he rounds the counter to joins me in the search. It feels as if we’ve been searching forever when he holds a pink envelope out toward me. I reach for it and zero in on the stamp. This was sent nine years ago. I rip the top open and a color photo falls out on the counter. My gaze scanning the words on the letter while taking in every single word.

Dear Cole,

I hope to God you will read this letter because I have so much I want to tell you. I can’t even start to tell you how sorry I am about what happened when you got released and came home six months ago. I’ve gone over so many ways of how I could have done things better, but every single one of them ends up with either you fatally wounded, something I know I wouldn’t survive, or back in prison.

The reason I am writing to you is to let you know that, oh God. I should be telling you this face to face. I’m pregnant. This is what I was trying to tell you when you walked into St. Christopher’s. I wish I tried harder, fought you harder through your anger. I wish I had been strong enough to disobey my dad and not marry your brother. My father had already hurt you so many times. I knew he had the ability to do worse. He warned me that if I disobeyed him you’d get hurt and I took him very seriously. I was going to save you, even if it meant making a decision that would not only alter the course of our lives, but, break my heart knowing I was breaking yours.

I know what it feels like to feel like you’re dead. Numb and cold. And then I met you and I’d never felt more alive. More wanted. I felt that I belonged somewhere, with someone amazing. If obeying my dad was going to save you and keep my heart beating, I’d take that chance and I took it. Please don’t blame Josh. He was doing what he thought was best for you to save you from my father.

Cole, please. Please get in touch with me. I want our children to know who their father is and I want you to know them.

Love,

Nor

I clutch the image of the babies to my chest. My brain tries to process everything I’ve learned the last few minutes. I shut my eyes tight, the memory of all the letters lying before me as well as the first one I ripped to pieces, flash inside my head.

Jesus. What have I done?

I’ve spent the past nine years hating two of the most important people in my life, Nor and my brother. I have two daughters and I’ve missed every moment of their lives.

And her father. There was no love lost between us, but forcing his daughter to marry Josh? That’s some twisted shit.

My thoughts automatically wander back to the day I last saw Nor. She had tried to tell me something, but I was blinded by my anger and the weight of betrayal so I didn’t stop to listen.

Simon appears in my line of vision. Wiping my wet cheeks, I raise my head to meet his gaze. His eyes widen, probably shocked to see the tears on my face.

I never cried when I lost Nor. I never cried when I left home. The pain of losing her was more than I could bare. I knew if I broke down and accepted that I had lost her, it would completely destroy me.

But this. . .everything is happening too fast. Every single emotion I’ve held onto these past nine years is trying to break free.

Simon hands me back the letters. “I’ll wrap things up here. I will be down there in five days tops. But right now, I have a woman who needs my attention.” He straightens and waggles his eyebrows then steps forward and gives me a one-armed hug before moving away from me. “Have you told Tate yet?”

“I was just about to text him when you walked in.”

“Call me as soon as you get there,” he signs.

I nod and follow him to the door. If I’m going back to the place I left nine years ago and swore never to return to, I need to man up. I need to face this.

The moment Simon leaves, I return to the living room and quickly type a text to Tate. I grab my bag and scoop Sirius up from his spot where he’s snuggled on the sofa and put him back in his carrier.

After gathering all the letters on the counter, I tuck them in the bag and zip it up. I lock up the house and head out. Once Sirius is settled in the back seat and the bag is in the trunk, I slide onto my seat, grip the wheel and stare out my window. I learned a long time ago that life is an unpredictable bitch. Constant one second, and utterly chaotic the next instant.

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