Authors: Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Tags: #Sports Romance, #coming of age, #african american romance, #new adult, #new adult contemporary romance, #multicultural romance
HOPE FOR HIM
(Hope Series Book #2)
All rights reserved
Published by SAM & Associates, LLC
Cover design © Arijana Karčić, Cover It! Designs
Editing by Jenny Sims
Formatting by Cookie Formats
No part of this publication may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photography, recording or any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written consent from the publisher and author, except in the instance of quotes for reviews. No part of this book may be uploaded without the permission of the publisher and author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is originally published.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead or places,
actual events or locales are purely coincidental.
The characters and names are products of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.
The publisher and author acknowledge the trademark status and trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned in this book.
he pain radiated from my core out through my arms and legs, fingers and toes. I tried to focus on something substantial, the tree leaves blowing in the wind outside the window or the sneakers lined up on the wall by the door. Everything slipped away.
I figured I lost the baby and was on my way out, too. So, I let go. I closed my eyes and welcomed the stillness and the silence, but something kept pulling me back. Make that someone. I forced my eyes open and focused on his bright blue eyes, only inches from mine. His eyes picked up the light, and I fell into them. Clung to his stare like a lifeline ...my lifeline. Jackson saved my life.
I woke up sweating, my shirt stuck to my chest. I pulled it away from my body and sat on the edge of the bed, trying to control my breathing. My eyes adjusted to the dark, and I made out the silhouette of Jack's little body in his crib. His tiny chest rose and fell. I knelt by his crib and reached through the slats to rub his back. He twitched and settled into a deeper sleep.
My little Jack turned one-year-old today. I should be happy.
Why am I having nightmares again?
God, I thought I was over it. My therapist warned me right before I quit seeing her that I would never get over something like this, I could only hope for something better and for the pain to fade away.
arrington Olivia Butler
I groaned at the sound of the bell, dreaded the sound. I wasn't in the mood for any more unexpected visitors today.
"Jackson, what are you doing here?" my mother squealed, and my heart sped up. My body warmed.
I checked my hair in the bathroom mirror and walked out to the kitchen. Jackson Latre Mitchell stood in the middle of my parents’ kitchen. Jack stared up at him with wide eyes and his mouth hung open. Jackson was our superhero. He saved our life.
Jack clutched Jackson's leg and laughed. Who would have thought we would end up here a year later?
"I told you, you didn't have to come," I said.
"I wasn't going to miss my godson's first birthday." He smirked and leaned down as I stood on my toes to wrap my arms around his neck. He picked me up and gave me a proper hug.
"Jackson," I whispered as I kissed his neck. "God, I am so glad you're here. You are not going to believe what happened?"
He set me down and searched my face with a raised eyebrow.
"What?" Jackson reached down and picked Jack up and hugged him to his chest.
"Mr. Griffin stopped by yesterday."
I thought back to our visit as I told Jack about it.
After having served Mr. Griffin and Jack tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, which was surreal enough, I had put Jack down for a nap as Mr. Griffin waited for me at the kitchen table. It felt strange to see him here. My house, although not modest by any means, could fit inside of his foyer.
My childhood home had become my sanctuary over the last year since Jack and I returned from Tallahassee. I needed to get as far away from FSU as possible, but I missed every minute of it—the freedom, the independence, a sense of belonging to a culture other than my own.
I stared down at the glass table. One of Jack's little fingerprints marked the corner. I rubbed it away and felt guilty for missing FSU. I told myself not to dwell on the past. Not when I had Jack's future to focus on. I had fallen in love with him before he entered this world. And the way he came into this world ... well, he was my little miracle.
I sat across from Mr. Griffin, and remembered the things he had said about me, I found it difficult to take his tearful confession as the truth.
When I looked at him, I wasn't sure how I felt. I had hated this man so much over the last two years—from the moment we met and he dismissed me as unimportant and insignificant. His relationship with his children made the devil seem like father of the year in comparison. This man had driven his wife and his son to commit suicide. What kind of man left the people around him with no hope? Both his wife and his son preferred death to his company. I shivered, thinking about it.
What could he possibly want with me after all this time?
I rubbed my arms and squeezed them around me as I stared and waited for him to speak first. He had a lot of convincing to do. He ought to feel lucky I gave him this opportunity.
"I wanted to start by saying how sorry I am. About the way, I treated you. About the things, you heard about me. I'm ashamed of who I was." He shook his head back and forth, and his eyes darted around from me to the backdoor, to the table and back to me. I stared at the ground.
"We don't have to rehash what happened. We both know the story well enough." I sat up straight and placed my hands in my lap. The chaos of my thoughts swirled in my mind, and I concentrated on making sure it wasn't visible on my face or in my body. He didn't need to know how it hurt deep in my core every time I thought about what he called me.
"I know, but I need you to forgive me."
I stood up, and my face flashed hot.
"Hear me out. I don't need you to absolve me of my sins. I need you to forgive me enough to let me help with Jack."
"Well, financially of course." He made it sound so easy.
I collapsed back in the chair."We don't need your money."
"Well, of course, you don't need my money. Hell, I don't need my money, but I have it, and I want you and Jack to be taken care of." His sarcasm made me laugh out loud. He was so not funny. Nothing about this situation was funny.
"Why is this so important to you?" I asked.
"What do you have against money?"
"You think taking care of us financially will make you feel better about what happened to Josh?"
"Nothing will make me feel better about losing my son." His eyes watered as he raised his voice, but he regained control, and the tears went away.
I placed my hands flat on the table and waited. "Why is this so important to you?" I asked again because he never answered my question.
"I want another chance."
"Another chance for what?"
"Another chance to be a better father."
arrington Olivia Butler
Jackson took the information well. He had developed a dislike for Mr. Griffin over the years that had nothing to do with me. He watched firsthand what the man did to his son, who was also Jackson's best friend and Jack's father. For years, Mr. Griffin controlled his son, long before I entered the picture.
"What did he offer you?"
"Five thousand dollars a month in child support."
"From the day Jack was born."
Jackson whistled. I smiled.
"And then, Jack gets Josh's trust fund."
Jackson laughed, which made my son laugh.
"Now that he's like a millionaire, I feel like I should treat him different." Jackson held Jack tight. Instead of squirming in his arms, he snuggled up against Jackson’s broad chest, stuck his thumb in his mouth, content to stay there for the rest of his life.
My ovaries ached as I watched the two of them together.
If his teammates could seem him now. People would never know Jackson was a first-team all-American, national championship MVP and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. He was all those things, but more important, he was Jack's godfather and my best friend.
"He’s not a millionaire, yet."
"You didn't turn him down again, did you?"
"No, I didn't answer him at all." I reached for Jack. "Let me put him to bed. He needs a nap or he'll pass out at the party."
"Let me do it. You need to sit here and think about Mr. Griffin's offer and come up with a good reason to turn it down. Even thought, every one of us thinks you should take it, at least for Jack's sake."
I rolled my eyes as he turned his back. "Come on, buddy, let's get you to bed."
Again, my uterus. Why is watching a man caring for a baby the sexiest thing in the world?
I used to get turned on by dirty talk and a well-intentioned kiss. Now, two hundred and twenty pounds of muscle cuddling a fifteen pound child turned my insides to mush.
As I watched him walk away, I felt eyes on me from behind.
"Could you be more into him?" my brother asked.
"So, what are you going to do?"
"Listen, I acquired this information like twenty-four hours ago. Can I have a few days to decide my child's entire future? Is that okay with you?"
"You're going to take the money?" he asked.
"I don't know."
"No. That wasn't a question, it was a statement of fact."
"Stop picking on your sister. She is going to do what she wants to do, and what's best for Jack,” my dad said.
I smiled at my father, but his eyes showed his true feelings. He was pleading with me to take the money without saying a word.
Or I guess it could be my own subconscious.
I had done pretty well in the year since Jack came into the world. I was taking classes at a community college and enrolled in SMU for the fall. I worked part-time at a local coffee shop at night for extra cash, and my parents took care of the rest.
Raising another kid was the furthest thing from their mind, especially after getting me out of the house, but they never complained.
In the few months I knew Josh, I watched what his family’s money did to him. I had no intention of having anything to do with the Griffins. He all but dared his son to kill himself and his son took the dare.
I have to admit, when I saw Mr. Griffin showing Jack more affection than he every offered to his own son, it touched me. It wasn't about the money.
Well, the money would be nice. It would secure Jack's future, and we could live on our own. I could totally live off of five thousand dollars a month.
Jackson walked back into the kitchen; he pushed his wavy brown hair out of his eyes. He wore it longer in the off-season. He caught me watching him and winked as he took a seat next to me at the kitchen table.
With the money, I could do anything.
With the money, I could return to FSU.
"If I took the money, I'd need to have some ground rules established first."
David ran over to the desk in the kitchen and pulled a legal pad and a pen out of the drawer, an unconscious reflex for a lawyer.
"Okay, so if I figured correctly, you have back child support accumulated in the amount of sixty-five thousand dollars."
"I move that amount to an account of my choice."
"Sounds reasonable," Jackson said.
"The trust; I don't want his people managing it. It should be an independent third party. Preferably someone who doesn't know who the Griffins are."