- Text Size +
“You need to get a DNA test organised.”
Nick looked up from the bottle of beer he had been swirling in silence and eyed his father levelly. Bob stared back at him.
“Are you serious?”
“Deadly,” Bob replied, setting his own glass down on the table beside the sofa. “If there’s any chance he’s your son – which he could be – you need to know for sure. Don't speculate any longer than you need to.”
Nick sank back in his chair and rubbed his eyes, his mind racing. Bob had arrived in time for dinner and, while the meal had passed with little mention of Nick's situation, the floodgates had opened now.
“How the hell do I organise a DNA test?” he sighed, letting his hands fall into his lap.
“I don’t know. I guess you call a private clinic somewhere and make some enquiries. I can do it for you if you like. Avoid the media attention…”
Nick groaned.
“If this gets in the papers… If Cassie sees it…”
"The truth is going to come out one way or another, Nick," Bob said gently. "The WHOLE truth. I know it's tough when she won't take your calls, but Cassie needs to hear it from you. And soon."
Nick downed the last of his whisky and stared intently into his empty glass.
"How do you want to do this?" Bob asked. "Do you want me to drive you to the hotel tomorrow?"
"I don't know if it's such a good idea for me to be seen heading into a hotel by myself. Wouldn't want anyone to think my marriage was in trouble," Nick replied dryly. "Would you mind going down there and bringing Hannah back here? Mom said she'll stay with the baby."
Bob nodded thoughtfully as Nick leaned back in his chair again.
"You don't want to see them both?"
The weight of the question pressed down on Nick's chest and a dozen new ones closed in on him. Would it make any difference if he saw the baby a day or so later? Not if the boy wasn't his. But what if he was? Did he really want to have denied him twice? He'd already ignored the phone call the day Jack was born... Did he want another snubbing on his conscience?
"I suppose I do," he answered carefully. "Can you bring them both?"
"Sure, I can," Bob replied as he stood and picked up their empty bottles. "There's a few more beers in the fridge. Do you want another?"
"You have NO idea how badly."

Propping himself up on one elbow, Nick squinted to make out the blurred digits on the clock beside the bed. 2:17am... 10:17pm in California. Falling back against the pillows, he lay staring up at the ceiling and wondered if Cassie might still be up, padding around the kitchen in her bathrobe. It would be about now that she began her hunt for the hot cocoa powder she never remembered to put back in the same place. He wondered for the millionth time if something was wrong with his mobile phone - had he dropped it recently or forgotten to change the volume setting after having it on 'silent'? Fumbling in the dark, he knocked the alarm clock to the floor before his hand closed around the sleek form of his mobile. No new messages. No missed calls. No second chances and really, could he blame her? He'd promised to love and cherish her for the rest of his life... foresaking all others... His vows hadn't lasted twelve months before Hannah blew into his life like a tornado and threw everything off kilter. He felt sick to his stomach as he lay recalling the lies he'd told Cassie, Brian, Bob... Even Hannah, caught in the middle of it all, hadn't known who he really was.
Accepting that sleep was not going to come while his mind raced at a mile a minute, Nick stumbled out of bed and switched the light on. He needed air - lots of it and quickly. Crossing the floor in his boxers and t-shirt, he was thankful Cassie had had the forethought to leave spare clothes in the closet when they visited Ann for Thanksgiving. He found a pair of sweatpants and running shoes at the bottom of the pile and pulled them on quickly, grateful to be off the exposed floorboards. Pulling a well worn Miami Dolphins sweater from the pile, Nick pulled it over his head as he made his way quietly out of the bedroom and towards the front door. Outside, the crisp night air pushed against his bare face and he breathed it in deeply. With the door closed behind him, Nick began to run.