“So I said to Harry that actually, I had the red pen first, way before he did. So Miss Marston said we had to share it, and he gave this look, Daddy, and I just wanted to punch him in the nose.”
Jolie. What a unique name.
“Daddy? You’re not even listening to me,” Imogen pouts, scooping her food into her mouth.
“Sorry, darling, I am.”
“He’s just annoying. Anyway, I want my own red pen.”
“Right,” I say, trying to concentrate on my child. “Red pen, maybe I’ve got one in my office.”
Imogen rolls her eyes at me, before pointing at me with her fork. “Don’t be ridiculous, Daddy! They’re school pens.”
“Immie,” I say, digging into my own plate of roasted goodness. Marianne, my housekeeper/maid/cook and God knows what else could cook a mean Sunday roast, even on a Friday. Succulent legs of lamb in a minted gravy sat beside whipped buttery mash and fine roasted vegetables.
“Your little friend, what’s her name? The one we played with at the park.”
Imogen nods, chewing thoughtfully.
“Yeah, was that her auntie or something?”
“The pretty one? She’s so beautiful and kind,” Imogen gushes, her eyes misting over. “She saved my dolls.”
I stifle a laugh as Imogen continues.
“But I don’t know how Grace knows her,” she shrugs. “Maybe she’s her godmother. Why haven’t I got a godmother?”
“You have aunts and uncles, and so many wonderful people around you. You don’t need one,” I explain, smiling as she uses a spoon to suck up the gravy from her plate.
“I have a greatmother,” Imogen grins, and I nod in agreement.
“Your Mum is amazing,” I agree, a slight pang in my chest at the mention of Larah.
“She says that about you too,” Imogen claps with delight.
I focus on finishing my food, thoughts on Jolie once again.
She’d seemed like she wanted to tell me something earlier. I was still reeling from the chance encounter with the ridiculously hot blonde that had no desire to be anywhere near me—despite a night of erotic fucking.
It was a first to wake up and find the woman gone after a night together.
“Can we make slime?” Imogen asks, pushing her empty plate away. Her golden hair falls around her shoulders in waves, the aftermath of the tight plait she’s worn all day. Her eyes mirror mine, and my heart skips a beat when I imagine the hell I'm going to endure when this girl is older.
I need to buy a shotgun.
But I didn’t. I’d kill them with my bare hands.
“Again?” I sigh, racking my brains to think of something else to distract her with.
My head's pounding, and I want to find that little blonde.
Twenty minutes later, Imogen is swinging her legs off the sofa, ramming ice cream into her mouth whilst we watch reruns of Barbie.
“Do I look like that?” She asks, turning her aquamarine gaze to mine. Her hair reaches down to her lower back, and she reminds me of a mermaid.
“No, you’re a million times more beautiful,” I say gravelly. “Barbie would pale in comparison to you.”
“I love you, Daddy. Even though you use silly words.”
“I love you too, Pumpkin.”
My thumb scrolls through Instagram, through the scores of people with Jolie in her name.
What is her surname? I’m sure she said it…
Irritated, I drop the phone down to my side, gazing at the bright screen, as Barbie tries to solve a wardrobe malfunction.
My phone rings, and I answer gruffly.
“Um, one of the sales went wrong.”
I close my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose.
“Danny?” I exhale. “You know not to call me on a Friday night unless it’s an emergency, right?”
There’s a pause, but then someone takes the phone from young Danny.
“Jax, it’s me.”
I bristle, knowing that if he was there, it must be serious.
“Well, one of the guys sold Layton James a used Jag—”
“Not again. I said not to deal with him!” I snap with annoyance. “You know he never keeps up with his payments and the cars get repossessed. Not before he ruins them.”
“Danny’s new, boss.”
“I know,” I say through gritted teeth. “Tell me the bad news.”
“Layton used fake money to pay the balance and he’s long gone.”
You take the Friday afternoon off and these cunts try to burn your business to the motherfucking ground.
“Call the police. I’ll speak to you on Monday. I’m with my daughter,” I say stiffly, hoping he gets the message.
A used Jag is worth around twenty grand, well, the ones I sell are, anyway. Now my shit employees have gone and given one to a piece of shit who wanted a nice car to impress someone for twenty minutes.
How hard was it to check the money? Or take a deposit and get the car ready for the next day?
My jaw tenses, and Imogen looks over at me with wide eyes.
“Is everything okay, Daddy?”
“Everything is fine, darling,” I smile until she turns around, and I fire off a text.
Find that Jag. That scum needs to learn a lesson.
Already on it.
Why does it always come down to violence?
I’m stroking Imogen’s hair, my head banging with the thought of what Rad and Co would do to Layton once they find him.
It isn’t my problem.
He shouldn’t be taking shit that doesn’t belong to him, using fake money like I’m some sort of chump.
It's two am when my phone beeps, alerting me to a text.
📱 UNKNOWN NUMBER
I’m only telling you this because I feel I should. I’m pregnant and it’s your baby. I don’t want anything from you, but as you’re the father I just wanted you to know. Jolie.
I sit bolt upright, gripping the phone in my hands tightly. I reread the text, my eyes bulging out of their sockets.
What the fuck?!
“No way,” I mutter, covering my eyes with both hands, dropping back to the pillow beneath me.
A girl that promiscuous must sleep with countless men. How does she know it’s mine?!
I stare at the darkness, my stomach twisting with the thought of what if.
She doesn’t want anything from me?
I’ve got no choice.
I’ve got to call her.
At two am, Jax?!
The phone rings, and at the point of the voicemail picking it up, she answers in a small voice.
“Jolie?” I exhale, praying this is some sort of set up. Maybe the boys thought it would be funny.
“Yeah. Look, Jax, you didn’t need to ring me—“
“Sweetheart, I’m not being funny, but how many men have you slept with in the past few months? What makes you so convinced you’re pregnant by me?”
There’s a stunned silence then, and I realise she’s hung up.
What the fuck?
I laugh of disbelief escapes my lips, and a text message comes through.
📱 UNKNOWN NUMBER
I said I don’t need anything from you. It’s yours, and I’m not bothered if you believe me or not.
For real? You expect me to just believe that you’re pregnant after one night of fucking—which, by the way, I wore a condom throughout— and then you have the audacity to hang up on me?
📱 UNKNOWN NUMBER
Thanks for judging me, but you are the only guy I’ve slept with in months. Sorry to break it to you, but condoms aren’t 100% effective.
Look, let’s meet up and talk about this properly. If you’re pregnant and the baby is mine, I’m there for you both. Just give me some time to absorb this shit.
I store her number, my hands shaking.
Monday, at noon. Let me know where.
Come to my work.
This will tell all.
Where is that?
She could be lying. Two can play that game.
There’s a cafe on the corner of Melrose street, opposite the big car place. Do you know it? That’s not far from my work.
I’ll meet you, but I really don’t want anything from you. I just want you to know that. See you Monday.
I stare at the phone, rereading the texts.
So the hottest night of sex I’ve ever had has resulted in a pregnancy?
Worse things have happened at sea.
But how the fuck was I going to explain this to Imogen?
There was only one person I could trust, only one person why would be completely honest with me.
I’ll call her in the morning.