Unexpected Reality

Unexpected Reality by Kaylee Ryan

Book: Unexpected Reality by Kaylee Ryan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kaylee Ryan
we got an apartment together in Mason, a few towns over.
    That’s where I met Cal. He was a third-year resident at the hospital Dawn and I worked at. He was charming, educated, and good-looking. On the outside, we had a ton of things in common. On paper, we were the perfect match. On the inside . . . not so much. I fell fast and hard, thought we were in love, until it was obvious that we weren’t. It took me a year to see it, to admit to the signs. By then, it was too late. He lived across the hall, so no matter how many times I tried to break things off with him, he was always there, lurking in the background. When my mom called and said Dr. Harris was looking for a new nursing coordinator, I jumped at the chance to interview. I missed living so close to my parents.’
    Dawn began looking too, and I happened to mention that in my interview. To my surprise, Dr. Harris needed a floor nurse as well. The practice has been here since I was a little girl, but the original staff was retiring, including the physicians. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. I needed to get away from Cal, and Dawn was more than willing to tag along for the adventure.
    After we were both offered positions, we packed slowly, making weekend trips to my parents’ to move our things. We both had to give two weeks’ notice, and I didn’t want to have to deal with the drama that Cal was sure to cause by us moving. Lucky for us, he went away for the weekend with friends and we were gone by the time he came home. No forwarding address. He knows I’m from Jackson, but we’re not alone here. Dawn and I have my parents’ and grandparents, and that alone helps me sleep at night.
    I shake away the memories and try to focus on the task at hand. We’ve got a full day of patients who need my full attention.

    He’s growing, gaining weight like he should be, and all looks good according to Dr. Harris. He’s only been home a few days, but it’s a relief to know I’m doing something right. I’m totally flying by the seat of my pants with this one. I don’t know what I would’ve done without Mom and Reagan. One, if not both of them, has been with me since the moment I brought him home. I appreciate them so much, but at the same time I feel like they’re hovering. I have to learn to do this on my own, as a single father. That’s not a title I ever imagined being associated with, but life is often unexpected.
    “Hey, are you even listening to me?” Reagan asks.
    I don’t take my eyes off the road—precious cargo and all that. “Sorry, a lot on my mind,” I confess.
    “What’s up?”
    I laugh. “Everything.”
    “Ridge,” she says softly.
    “I’m good, really. Just thinking about how much you and Mom have helped me with little man.” I glance at her in the rearview mirror. “I think I need to try it on my own, you know?”
    She’s quiet for several minutes. I don’t look at her, afraid of what I’ll see. Maybe she thinks I’m not capable.
    “You’re good with him,” she finally says. “We just want you to know that you’re not alone. We’re with you every step of the way.”
    I take a minute to let her words sink in. “I know, and I love you both for it, but I have to do this. I have to learn to take care of him. You and Mom can’t be there every day for the rest of his life. I have to learn to be both Mom and Dad to him.”
    Silence greets me. I glance in the mirror and see she’s wiping a tear from her eyes. What the fuck? Tears? I hate tears.
    “I’m so damn proud of you, big brother. Knox is a lucky little boy to have you for a father. I don’t know many men who would be thrown into your position unexpectedly and handle it like you have. Like you are.”
    I nod, choked up a little at her praise. We drive the rest of the way to my place in silence. It’s not until I pull into the drive that I break it.
    “I need to run to the store and stop by the office. Do you mind watching him?” I turn to

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