Excerpt From Impacted: Conflicted Encounters #2
Available September 23rd!
Kallie worked on her laptop while I browsed through the billion channels she had. I doubted she had time to even look through all of them, let alone watch them. I tried to stop glancing at her ankle. The swelling went down a little, but it was turning purple and blue. I wished she would get it checked it out, but she wasn't going to do that. I listened to her tap away at the keyboard and finally settled on a Batman movie. She clicked and typed away, texting on her phone and going through files of papers.
Since I've seen this movie a hundred times, I got restless and took the time to swap out Kallie's "ice pack". I put the broccoli back in the freezer and brought in a bag of carrots. She thanked me and I nodded back in response. We didn't have much to say to each other. Most of the long drive up here was in silence. I had so much I wanted to say, but didn't want to at the same time.
I walked around the apartment, giving myself a tour. It was modern with lots of black and white, clean lines and minimal decoration. It had an open and modern style to it. The only photos on the wall were black and white landscapes. She didn't even have any photos of friends or family hanging. Scarlett's room was plastered with candid photos and little souvenirs. Kallie had nothing.
The sun was starting to set and I approached the windows that spanned the entire wall facing Lake Erie. The apartment was on the top floor, giving a clear view of the lake and some city lights. I stood, staring at the water as far as you could see, tinted with purple and pink. I turned back around when I heard movement to find Kallie standing by the couch.
"Wow," Kallie said with wide eyes, looking over the same sunset I was.
"You live here. You've probably seen it a thousand times," I laughed.
"I haven't," she admitted in a small voice. "I never pay attention."
I shook my head at her. "Well, you've been busy." I didn't hide the hardness in my voice.
"I hate it here," she said in a dead voice that scared me a little. "I hate it all. It kills me. It eats me alive and sucks the life out of me. I have nothing left. I lost you, lost my mind."
If it weren’t for the trembling I could see in her body, I would have seen no emotion. Her voice was calm and her face was neutral. In a swift movement, she bent and flipped the coffee table over. Glass shattered everywhere. She stepped over the broken shards and swiped the photos off the wall. They fell to the floor breaking before she moved over to the built-in entertainment stand.
When she started to rip cords out of the wall, I broke out of my frozen state and rushed to her. Grabbing her arms from behind, I lifted her off the ground. Kallie kicked and squirmed in my arms as I backed us into the kitchen.
"Kallie, calm down," I said in her ear. She snapped and I wasn't sure how to get her back.
I wasn't sure if there was anything that could be said to make it better. She was right, in a way. She lived a different life, one that I wasn't convinced she wanted or fit into. I held my arms around her body, keeping her feet off the ground until she grew tired and went limp. She was still shaking and started to cry.
I sank down to my knees, taking her with me and situating her in my lap. Part of me knew I shouldn't be comforting her when she was so upset and vulnerable, but I couldn't just let her breakdown alone. I promised we could be friends and this is what a friend would do. Although, I am sure Scarlett would be better in this situation.
Kallie's body stopped convulsing and a little while later, she stopped crying and sniffled a few times. Her wet blue eyes looked up at me and I swear my heart ripped in half. I hated seeing her hurt. She gave me a sad smile before pushing off of me and she scooted a few feet away on the floor.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled while wiping the tears off her face.
"It's okay." It's not.
"I never meant for all this to happen," she gestured around her. "I never meant to ignore you. I never meant to make you think that I didn't love you."
I swallowed the lump in my throat. I shook my head at her and closed my eyes. I wanted to believer her more than anything. She probably even believed herself, but I couldn't risk that she wouldn't hurt me like that again. After being deemed not good enough for my own mother, I never allowed myself to rely on someone else's love and approval again. Until Kallie.
We sat in silence on the tile floor. She didn't apologize again and I didn't have to push her away again. I wondered how we would get through the upcoming weeks and play nice for the wedding. It was becoming obvious that both us wanted what we had, but going back to that wasn't as easy as it sounded.
A knock came at the door and Kallie called for them to come in. The door opened and Kallie's Dad Junior stood in the doorway, taking in the sight of the trashed living room.
"What happened here? Are you okay?" he asked as he rushed over to Kallie's side.
"It's fine," she said, brushing him off and glaring until he backed away. She used the counter to pull herself up. "I lost my temper."
"What did you do to her?" he growled at me. I raised my eyebrows, almost impressed. Yesterday, this guy looked like he couldn't get aggressive with a kitten. He seemed genuinely pissed at me now.
"I didn't do shit," I said in a warning voice as I stood up.
"Ivan," Kallie said, to get his attention. When he looked at her, she limped into the living room, moved a chunk of glass from the table and handed him a thick file. "Pandora and Gala."
"Why are you limping?" he asked her.
"I hurt my ankle yesterday. Here are all the contracts. I sent you the electronic copies as well. The product list and pricing is in here. Here are all the Gala plans I have so far. It's pretty much done already. I suggest Amanda to finish this up. She's pretty creative and planned the Christmas party. She's good."
Ivan held the files in his hands and stared blankly at her. Kallie stood up straight and didn't retract her arm when he made no effort to take the work. She looked completely serious, and it was sexy as hell. The prick finally sighed and accepted the papers.
"Kallie, I can't do all this without you," he whispered, probably hoping I didn't hear.
We both waited for her response in suspense. I wanted to shove him out the door and tell him fuck off, but I needed her to do that. She had to make the choice. This was her chance to give in and stay where she was, or stand her ground and tell him no. Kallie needed to do it for herself, not for me and not for Ivan.
I never wanted for her to turn her back on her family and life for me. I wanted her to be happy and to do what it took to get there. When she fell into her old ways, I wasn't upset just because she basically forgot about me. I was upset because I knew she was doing something she didn't want to.
"Yes, you can," she finally told him. "Amanda will do great with the planning. Pandora is pretty much in the bag. My dad hired you for a reason."
"He wanted you," he insisted, almost sounding pitiful.
"I'm family. He hired you because of your skills, education and all that," she explained gently. "You'll do fine."
She sounded so sure, so confident. I realized that although this guy looked like a pansy, he was educated and had a future ahead of me. He probably went to a fancy college like Kallie did. I had my diploma and a future in car repair, if I'm lucky, classic restoration. Ivan already had her father's approval. I paled in comparison to him, but she still wanted me.
"You sure you're okay?" he asked her, like it was secret. He probably thought I was holding her against her will.
"I'm fine," she huffed. "I just can't do this anymore. Any of it. I want to go my own way. I need to."
He nodded. "Good for you."
Ivan turned and walked to the door, pausing before pulling it open. He looked right at me before saying, "Take care of her."
With that, he walked out the door and left us alone. I stared at Kallie, taking in her calm and strong composure. She meant what she said, I was never so proud of her. I just hoped she stayed strong enough. I doubted they would let her go so easy. I was the only idiot that would let her go without a fight.
I crossed the distance between us in just a few steps. Kallie's blue eyes locked on mine as I cupped her checks and leaned down to press a hard kiss to her lips. Her tongue quickly slipped between my lips and I closed my teeth on it gently. Pulling away, I dragged my teeth on her tongue, pulling a deep moan from her.
My blood caught on fire and I gripped the back of her head, pulling her closer. Her body pressed against mine, instantly driving the want of feeling her skin on mine. I grabbed her hips and slammed myself into her, letting her feel how much I needed this. She grabbed my shoulders and dug her nails into my skin.
My hands slid down to her thighs and lifted. She wrapped her legs around me as I spun to set her on the counter. I kissed her frantically while rubbing up her stomach and under her shirt, grazing the underwire of her bra. When she tugged at the hem of my shirt, I backed away to let her pull it over my head.
Once topless, my lips and tongue continued running over the tender skin of her neck. Her breathing was quick and I could feel her chest meeting mine with every pant. Kallie was as frantic as I was. Her moans filled my ears and I couldn't feel close enough to her.
"Bedroom," she panted against my neck, leaving a trail of heat behind her breath.