Read Breakthrough Online

Authors: J.H. Knight

Tags: #Gay Romance

Breakthrough

BOOK: Breakthrough
2.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Breakthrough

 

By
J.H. KNIGHT

 

The road to recovery is never easy, even when you’re just an innocent bystander to someone else’s addiction.

For Jack, it’s especially hard because he blames himself for his son Rick’s drug problems. It took Jack over half his life to admit to himself (and his wife) that he was gay, but years later, he still carries guilt over what his realization did to his son.

He never thought Rick’s treatment would help him rehabilitate too, but when Jack meets Seth, the man trying to help his son get back on his feet, it’s the breakthrough he never knew he needed.

 

 

For my mother, in loving memory.

Chapter One

 

 

“BYE, PAPA!
I’ll miss you!” Little Casey’s voice rang in Jack’s ears as he drove out of the parking lot. He’d come to love his weekends with the grandkids more than he ever dreamed he would. He was grateful his daughter-in-law Shelley let him take Casey and Lilly twice a month, glad she was willing to give herself a break from (hopefully temporary) single parenthood once in a while.

Trying to chase away the empty feeling in the car, Jack turned on the radio. He sighed as he thought of his son. Rick was on another attempt at rehab. No matter how much Jack hoped it would be the last, he wouldn’t place any bets on it. The trouble had seemed to start just after Jack and Marie divorced. Trying his whole life to fit himself into a closet had only given him one good thing—Rick. Unfortunately coming out of the closet threatened to take Rick away from him.

Rick had been a great kid, smart and funny and sweet. But all it took was one rough year and a few unfortunate choices to create a perfect shitstorm that would take over a decade to clean up. Jack still wondered whether he’d made the right choice, still beat himself up over it. He still called himself a selfish asshole for not waiting a few more years, for not hanging in there until Rick was older, old enough that his world wouldn’t be turned upside down by his father’s big reveal.

Finding out your parents were getting divorced at the age of fourteen was hard enough, but finding out they were getting divorced because Dad was a big ol’ homo had to be a million times worse. At least that’s what Jack told himself over and over on nights like this, when the August rain felt cold and lonely rather than refreshing. When he couldn’t get warm enough and couldn’t find any reason not to drive his car headlong into oncoming traffic.

Casey and Lilly’s faces sprang to mind.

Bye, Papa! I’ll miss you!”

Right. So he could find a reason.

Thankfully, those two grandkids were enough to make him turn his car toward home.

 

 

“SO, HOW
was the hot date last weekend?”

Mindy was his Crazy Cat Lady neighbor and one of his closest friends. She had been on his doorstep with a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup when he’d gotten back to his condo. He wasn’t sure whether she knew how hard it was for him to pass Lilly and Casey back to their mother or whether she was simply as lonely as he was. Either way he was grateful for her company. And the flavorful, low-sodium dinners she often shared with him.

Jack was still trying to swallow a bite of bread when she asked her inevitable question. “Creepy,” he muttered in response. He dabbed his lips with a napkin and took a sip of wine before going on. “He kept calling me Daddy.” He couldn’t help but laugh when she crinkled her nose. “I know a lot of guys get off on that, but figuring in the fact that he was about my own son’s age… I’m not that guy.” He feigned a shudder.

Laughing with him, Mindy nodded. “It’s not that bad, considering some of the other guys you’ve gone out with.”

Snorting over his soup bowl, Jack rolled his eyes at her. “Remember the guy with the horns?”

“That’s what you get for trying to hook up online.”

“Hey, I have a lot of friends who have met great people online. Hell, Erin and Andy are celebrating their third wedding anniversary, and they met in a chat room.”

“I think that makes them the exception, not the rule. Though I’d say it’s at least a little your fault, since his bio said ‘horny guy looking for older man.’”

“How was I supposed to know he meant actual horns?”

Mindy was still giggling as she started to clear the dishes. “Maybe it was a weird genetic thing or something. I mean….”

Jack shook his head, trying to forget the encounter altogether. “Nope, I asked. Anyone willing to have their head surgically altered to resemble the devil or whatever is too much for me.”

Reaching into the freezer to get out a pint of low-fat coconut ice cream, Mindy glanced at Jack. “I wonder if he had a tail.”

“Oh God, I’m going to have nightmares now.”

“He was still better than the guy who wanted you to diaper him.”

Jack grabbed two spoons and sat across the kitchen bar from her. “True.” He tipped his head to the side and thought for a moment. “And, weirdly enough, that one didn’t call me Daddy.”

“I’d say you’re being too picky, but good God, you’ve had some weird ones.”

“Well, to each their own, but sometimes I think I’m being punished for something. I can’t figure out what, though.”

Mindy fought for room in the small container with her spoon. “Whatever happened to Steve? He seemed pretty normal.”

Swallowing a cold bite, Jack nodded in agreement. “He was, and he was pretty nice too, but I don’t know. After a few dates, we just weren’t clicking. He wanted something casual, and that seems kind of ridiculous at my age.”

“You always say that like you should be in a rest home and using a walker. Forty-seven isn’t that old.”

“God, I love your horrible memory. I turned forty-nine this year.”

Mindy rolled her eyes. Jack knew what was coming, but he let her go on. “You’re a silver fox. You work out. You eat right. You’ve even got great skin, for God’s sake.”

“Emphasis on the silver.” Jack pointed a finger at the top of his head, his hair more salt than pepper. “Not to mention the crow’s feet, enough dental work to put my dentist in a summer home in France, reading glasses….”

“Whiner.” She took another bite of ice cream, making a face when it was obviously too cold for her. “You’re in great shape. You’re hot. You’ve got a steady career. The only reason you end up with crazy people is because you’re not willing to leave the house unless you’re at work, at the gym, or with your grandkids. All those hookup sites get you is one-night stands and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Jack let out a loud bark of laughter. “I do not have PTSD. I just have very bad luck.”

“Maybe it’s not PTSD, but I know for a fact that you took at least five showers after the diaper guy.”

He arched a brow at her as he tossed the empty container of ice cream into the trash can. “How do you know that?”

“I could hear the water running from next door.” She flicked her corn-silk blonde hair to get it out of her face as she spoke. “You ran out of shampoo and borrowed mine around shower number four.”

“I guess you should count yourself lucky that my sex life isn’t more active.” He waggled his eyebrows at her and conjured up his most wolfish grin. “You’d never sleep.”

Mindy shrugged, laughing. “I’ll invest in earplugs if you ever invest yourself in a relationship. I promise.”

Sighing, Jack put his arm around Mindy’s shoulder. “I’m working on it, I swear.”

“Uh-huh.”

Jack gave her a squeeze when she shot him a doubtful glare. “Don’t look so skeptical.” He couldn’t really blame her, though. Jack’s efforts in the area of romance had been halfhearted at best. “This is just harder than I remember it. Or, harder at my age. Or, harder with men. I don’t know.”

Mindy said playfully, “I should hope it’s harder with men….”

Jack pinched her and let her go with a playful shove.

He looked at her for a long moment. She was a great girl. One of the best people he knew. “How are you still single?”

“Because I’m in love with a gay man?” Mindy batted her eyelashes as she swooned into him.

Jack caught her and gave her another push toward the kitchen, shaking his head in mock sympathy. “Tragic.”

“I know, right?”

Cleaning the kitchen took longer than it should have. They talked, giggled here and there, and teased each other as always. As Mindy packed the leftover soup into a container for Jack’s lunch, she glanced at him almost shyly and bit her lip as if she wasn’t sure how to break some bad news to him. “I did kind of meet someone, though….”

Jack wiped his hands on a dish towel, waiting for her to say more. When she didn’t offer anything else, he asked, “How do you “kind of” meet someone? Either you met them or you didn’t.”

“Do you have any idea how annoying that is?”

“I’ve been told on several occasions.” Jack bumped her ample hip with his own. “So where’d ya kinda meet him?”

She actually blushed. “At the vet’s office.”

“Patient or doctor?”

Mindy let the joke go without comment. “Neither. He’s one of the lab techs. I was dropping off Muffin Tops for his shots, and we started talking.”

Jack leaned on the counter with a moony expression. “Sounds like love.”

“You’re such an ass. This is what you’re being punished for. Next you’re getting a necrophiliac.”

Jack laughed so hard he had to sit down. Considering his luck, it could happen. “I’m sorry, tell me. What’d you guys talk about?”

She shook her head as she rinsed the ice cream spoons, her straight hair falling over her shoulders. “Nothing major. Just cat stuff mostly. But the first time I met him, in a twelve-minute conversation, he managed four times to drop the fact that he’s divorced.”

“Kids?”

“One. He’s got a son named Brian. Anyway, so, when I went back yesterday with Jamocha, he asked me out.”

“Nice. Is he cute?”

“He’s as cute as you, but younger.”

Jack stuck his tongue out at her for that. “Har-har. What’s he look like? When’s the date? Where’s he taking you? You suck at this.”

As she collected her things, Mindy let out a teasing, exasperated huff. “Oh my God, you’re worse than my mother. He looks like Orlando Bloom with glasses.”

Jack whistled and rubbed his hands together, grinning. “After a yearlong dry spell, you hit pay dirt. Please tell me he has an accent.”

Beaming at him as she slipped into her clogs, Mindy shook her head. “No accent, but he’s got gorgeous brown eyes and curly hair. And a dimple in his chin.”

“Now you’re just bragging.”

“A little bit. Sorry.”

“No, you’re not.”

“I know.”

Jack walked her to the door. “So where’s he taking you?”

“No idea, but he said to wear my dancing shoes.”

“You know he’s taking you dancing to see how you move.” Jack grinned again, teasing her.

As she stepped out the door, Mindy huffed and rolled her eyes again. “Such an ass. Maybe he’s taking me dancing to show off his moves.”

“Maybe I should get some earplugs.”

“Maybe you should.”

Considering the look in her eye and the grin on her face as he closed the door behind her, Jack added earplugs to his shopping list.

Chapter Two

 

 

“CALL ON
line two.” Jack nearly jumped when he heard his secretary’s voice over the intercom.

It wasn’t that he was never interrupted by the phone, but it was unusual so late in the day, and he was knee-deep in the files of one of his most complicated clients.

“Thanks, Sharon.” He was sure she didn’t hear him. They had installed the new phone system a year earlier, and he still hit the wrong button more often than not.

Sharon poked her head around the corner and smiled. “I’m about to take off for the day. You need anything else?”

He had already picked up the phone, so he simply nodded and waved her off. She grabbed her coat and moved quickly, as if she hoped to sneak out before he changed his mind.

“Dad?” Rick’s voice over the phone sent a small wave of panic through Jack. He hoped his son was calling with good news, not to say he’d checked himself out of Serenity Meadow.

“Hi, Son, how’s it going?”

When Rick paused and let the silence stretch between them, Jack’s heart sank. It had to be bad news. Why else would his son call and then not say anything? His chest tightened as he clenched his hand into a frustrated fist, but Rick surprised him when he finally spoke. “It’s going pretty good, actually. I mean… considering, ya know?”

Jack couldn’t stop grinning all of a sudden, so grateful he wanted to dance or maybe cross himself. He wasn’t even Catholic, but it seemed like the thing to do. “Good, that’s great.”

“Yeah, listen, um….” When Rick hesitated, Jack leaned forward onto the edge of his seat, waiting for his son to go on. Rick’s next words were another happy surprise. “This weekend is visitor’s day, and, well, I was hoping you could come?”

Jack thought he heard a nervous plea in his son’s voice, and it broke his heart a little.

Rick hadn’t asked him for anything other than money in over two years. Jack blurted out, “When? What time?”

BOOK: Breakthrough
2.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

A Week in Winter: A Novel by Willett, Marcia
How to Cook Your Daughter by Jessica Hendra
Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
La cinta roja by Carmen Posadas
KILLER DATE (SCANDALS) by Clark, Kathy