Needing Happily Ever After - Elena Aitken Page 0,2
Ridge. Maybe it was a sense of home, or the good memories he held of the place, or even just the fact that it was familiar to him. But whenever he looked out over the mountaintops, something changed inside him. Almost as if a switch were flipped that allowed him to breathe again.
And that sense of breath and peace was just beyond the gates.
No doubt the code was the same as it always had been, too. But he didn’t press the buttons on the keypad to enter the familiar numbers. Instead, he dropped his head and sighed.
Part of him wanted more than anything to walk into his childhood home the way he did for so many years, knock on his father’s office door and say hello as casually as if he hadn’t been gone for years and there wasn’t a cavernous divide between them. And hadn’t always been.
Damon couldn’t actually remember a time when there hadn’t been a strange distance between them. When his mother had been alive, the gap hadn’t seemed quite so insurmountable. But after her death, it was as if the little bit of glue they did have holding them together died right along with her. Those days and weeks after her funeral had been so tense and uncomfortable in the house. If it weren’t for his father expressing how disappointing Damon was to both of his parents, and how he’d broken his mother’s heart, there wouldn’t have been any conversation between them at all.
When he closed his eyes, he could still hear his father’s voice in his ears.
“She died from a broken heart, Damon.” His father’s words had come out of nowhere over a dinner of leftover casserole some caring neighbor had brought over. “You left home and she didn’t know what to do with herself.”
“That’s not my fault.” Ever since the funeral, he’d tried his best to avoid a conversation like this one with his father, knowing exactly how it would go. “She had a heart attack, Dad. That’s very different.”
“She dedicated her whole life to loving you, and you just left,” he continued, as if Damon hadn’t spoken.
“I went to school, Dad. I’m in college.”
Anthony Banks shook his head, not willing to hear any excuses from his son. “All she ever wanted was to see you settled down with a family, Damon.”
“I’m barely twenty years old!” He finally raised his voice, and even as he did, Damon knew it was futile. “It’s not my fault that she never got a chance to see that and you know it. I’m only sorry that she was stuck here alone with you.” His father’s face had gone sheet-white, and Damon knew he should stop himself, that saying hurtful things wouldn’t bring his mother back. But he couldn’t stop the next words as they flew from his mouth. “Did you ever think that maybe she died to get away from you?”
He regretted the hateful words the moment he spoke them, but it was too late. They’d never been close, but Damon had never purposefully been hurtful. Shame flooded through him as his dad quietly got up from the table and left the room.
That was the last time they’d spoken properly. Not that there was anything proper about that conversation.
Besides a few terse conversations that Damon could count on one hand, he hadn’t heard from his dad in years.
Until last week.
He’d memorized the email he’d received barely seven days ago.
* * *
The time has come to sell ElkView Ridge. It will be formally listed in two weeks’ time.
I thought you should know.
* * *
There was no way he was going to let his dad sell his home out from under him.
ElkView Ridge was the only place that had ever felt like home to him. The only place where he felt like him. And more importantly than that, it was his mother’s home. If it was gone…
No. He wouldn’t even let himself think about it.
Almost as soon as he’d received the email, Damon had called his lawyer to put in an offer on the property. Money wasn’t an object. It hadn’t been since he’d sold his microchip design in a bidding war with the top computing companies. No, whatever his dad wanted for ElkView Ridge, he’d pay it.
Only the lawyers didn’t even get as far as putting in the offer because there was one major stipulation in the listing. One requirement that any potential buyer had to fulfill before an offer, no matter the size, would be considered.