The Dragon's Fate - Roxie Ray Page 0,1

of the man, he cleared his throat behind me. Dad was good like that. He knew that I was sensitive and easily startled, so he always announced himself gently with a heavy step or cleared throat. He wrapped an arm around me as if he knew I was thinking of him. “How’re you doing?”

This man was the only man who I considered to be my father. He’d been in my life since I was eleven. He was more of my dad than my biological father ever was. Good riddance to that man. It hurt me more than I cared to admit that I’d done the same thing to my daughter, chosen a shitty sperm donor for her.

“I’m getting better. Processing everything.”

Dad moved us forward and pulled out a kitchen chair for me. “Sit. Eat. We’re in no hurry for you two to leave. Stay here as long as you’d like.”

I loved the house they’d bought in Bluewater. It definitely beat the one I rented for Hayden and me. But they were in a better position to buy than I was. I’d had to start all over when I left Damon and got nothing out of the divorce except for Hayden.

She was all I needed anyway. I didn’t want his money. His money would come with strings attached.

"Thanks, Daddy," I whispered as Hayden tried to flip a pancake.

He dropped a kiss on the top of my head before moving over to my mom and daughter, placing the same kisses on the tops of their heads. My heart ached as I found myself wishing I could find someone to love me and Hayden the way my stepdad loved my mother, as well as me and my sister, Bianca.

Speaking of Bianca, my wild sister burst through the back door, a ball of energy, with her newest boyfriend trailing not far behind. “Hey, everyone,” she chirped. “This is Andre.” Bianca went through boyfriends like she did underwear, so I didn’t bother trying to remember the guy’s name. I just nodded my head at him as Dad held out his hand and gave poor Andre his sternest look. They shook and Andre tried to smile at Dad, but he wavered at the end. Bianca pulled him toward the big breakfast table.

He sat across from me and gave me that same sweet smile. I felt a bit bad for the kid because I knew he likely wouldn’t last through the weekend. Bianca was flighty that way.

Hayden walked from the stove with a plate piled high with pancakes. I took them from her. “Grab the syrup, baby.”

She grinned and scuttled off to get it as Bianca poured juice for her and the kid.

He wisely stayed quiet while she piled up his plate.

Mom brought the rest of the breakfast. She’d been cooking every morning and Bianca had come to eat with us each time. I knew she didn’t normally, and appreciated that she was trying to make things seem fine and dandy for Hayden. She was flighty and too energetic, but Bianca was one hell of a good sister. She’d dropped everything for me. I’d never in my life forget that. That sort of deep shit didn’t just go away.

Hayden sat down and Mom settled on her other side. Bianca started rambling about a concert she was going to go to next weekend, and I sort of tuned her out. I loved her, but man, that girl could talk, and the coffee that Mom had so graciously put in front of me hadn’t come close to working yet.

“Bri?” Bianca said my name as if she’d said it once or twice already. Whoops. I was lost in my feels again. It seemed to happen a lot lately.

“Yeah?” I raised my eyebrows and focused on my sister. “Sorry, what did you say?”

“I asked you if the owner of the bar gave a statement to the police?” She took a bite and watched me as if she was concerned for my sanity.

Maybe she had reason to be, hell. Most days I did feel like I was losing it, anyway.

But then my mind caught up to what she’d asked, and I woke up fast. I shot daggers at my sister, any lingering appreciation for her moving to Bluewater with us flying out the window. I hadn’t told Hayden why we were staying with my parents. She was six years old. These kinds of things weren’t supposed to touch my sweet girl. Besides, she’s already been through too much. I cut my gaze

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