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Jesus H. Christ.

No fuckin’ way was I a dad.

I did not have a twenty-two year old kid walking around the streets of Baltimore.

Reeling, I tried to shut those thoughts down as I raced toward the exit of the salon, burst out the door and froze for a stunned second, trying toprehend the reality of seeing Charlie for the first time.

How could I not know?

How could Marla do this to me?

Breathing was suddenly difficult and I put my hands on my knees, like I had sprinted a hundred meter race. I tried to grab onto something real as I struggled to find steady internal ground. It wasn’t easy as I read the signs around me: Frank’s Pet store, Leon’s bakery, Taxes done here, Buy one, get one free.

It didn’t help.

My world had imploded and I could do nothing to stop the destruction busting through every one of my defenses. At this rate, only a shred of my heart would be left.

Desperate to get away from the scene of the crime, I walked aimlessly down the row of shops, trying to wrap my mind around the fact I had a living, breathing kid running around with my DNA.

Charlie Matthews.

It was likeing face to face with a mirror. Our features were almost identical, except he had Marla’s thick, dark, beautiful hair and doe eyes. Everything else was me.

She had named him after my grandfather.

Why would she do that?

It didn’t make sense.

The tightness in my chest suddenly expanded, growing so unbearable, I bolted down the corridor of shops in a full sprint, not caring where I ended up. I just wanted to forget everything pressing down on me.