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Jackson’s Destiny

By:C.A. Harms


Prologue





Jackson



In a matter of minutes, my world changed forever.

We were all standing in the lobby of Heavenly Temptations, watching Bailey fume at Amber’s mother when the phone rang. The pain and sadness in my momma’s voice as I answered immediately put me on high alert.

“Jackson, please hurry, he won’t get up, and he won’t open his eyes. I don’t know if he’s even breathing.”

The fear that hit me almost stopped my heart. My eyes locked on Ryan’s for only a split second before I spun around on my heel and raced out the door of the bakery toward my truck. I didn’t even take the time to hang up my phone.

The entire drive to my parents’ home was a blur. I don’t remember turning onto Thomas Drive or speeding up Campton Lane, yet I could hear the wail of the sirens from my brother’s squad car as it followed me. I couldn’t get my mother’s words out of my head. Images of my father lying helpless on the ground ate away at me with each mile marker that passed.

I didn’t even turn off the engine when I slid to a stop right next to the ambulance on the gravel of the driveway. I jumped out, leaving the door open, and sprinted toward the barn with my brothers close behind. I could hear their footsteps in the gravel and both of them calling my name, yet I didn’t hesitate for a second.

As I rounded the corner of the barn, the scene hit me. My throat immediately went dry, and chills covered my body. A sense of helplessness washed over me, something I was not familiar with.

My father lay just outside of Midnight’s stall with two paramedics kneeling over him. My mother sat on the ground not even three feet away, staring at the man she had spent her life loving, tears rolling down her cheeks. The strong, confident woman I knew, whose presence alone made the three of us boys cower, looked so frail and devastated.

I wanted to rush to her, comfort her, yet my feet would not move. My gaze shifted back to the man who I could say without a doubt was my best friend and my hero from day one. My father had always been the one person I could turn to no matter what, someone who accepted me without judgment.

I just couldn’t fathom the scene before me. It was almost surreal, like watching something from a movie.

Noah rushed past me toward my mother, and Ryan stepped up to my side. The sounds of more sirens blaring only made my heart beat faster.

The male paramedic began compressions on my father’s chest as the young woman at his side monitored Dad’s pulse. I felt as if I had tunnel vision as I focused on the man’s lips as he counted out before each pump of his hands. When he stopped and looked down at my father before shifting his gaze toward the woman, my own line of vision followed his.

A small shake of her head brought from my mama one of the saddest sounds I had ever heard in my life, a cry of pure agony and despair. The life we had led with the most amazing man any of us had ever known would now only be memories.

My eyes blurred with tears as I took a step toward my father. A strong hand gripped my arm to stop me, but I jerked it away. I reached Dad’s side in three long strides, crumbled to my knees, and placed my hand against his chest. I didn’t speak, just stared back at the man who molded me into who I was today.

“I’m so sorry.” A soft whisper broke the silence, but I couldn’t look away from my father. The young paramedic inched back, allowing me the time I needed to accept that the man before me was gone.

I couldn’t speak. I felt like I was breathing in fire, and my chest ached with every breath. I struggled to hold myself together, but I was slowly falling apart. The idea of a world without my father in it was something I couldn’t wrap my head around. Just three hours ago, we were sitting on the back porch, drinking coffee, and going over everything that needed to be done on the ranch.

Now he was gone.

I’m not an emotional man, but as the loss washed over me, tears filled my eyes and I hung my head, giving in to the overwhelming sense of loss that filled my stomach and made my heart ache. In that moment, I realized just how sad and lonely the world could feel.





Chapter One





Bailey



I wiped the tears from my cheeks and gently blew my nose as I watched everyone begin to walk away from the graveside. Off in the distance, Ryan and Noah were attempting to console Jackson. He was always so assured and confident—hell, he intimidated me, and that was not an easy task. But today he was holding back his emotions. The death of their father was devastating to all of them, but Jackson in particular just seemed lost.

After the services, we all came back to the ranch to pay our respects to the family. I felt a little out of place, but Amber insisted I was part of this group too.

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