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Elusive Love
  • Текст добавлен: 17 сентября 2016, 20:05

Текст книги "Elusive Love"


Автор книги: K. A. Robinson






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Текущая страница: 1 (всего у книги 12 страниц)

Copyright © 2015 by K.A. Robinson

All rights reserved.

Visit my website at www.authorkarobinson.com

Cover Designer: RBA Designs

Editor and Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing, www.unforeseenediting.com

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Other Books by K.A. Robinson

Excerpt of Deception

Acknowledgments

About the Author

If I had known how Ethan would change my life so drastically, I never would’ve said a word to him.

I would have treated him the way I’d treated every other guy my friend Andrea dated—with polite coolness. After all, the guys rarely stuck around for long. Once Andrea was finished with one, she would send him on his way, confused and thoroughly fucked. It was just how she was.

Instead, I’d spoken to Ethan. Every day, he’d joined Andrea, Delilah, and me at our lunch table, and we’d joked with each other. He was a sophomore, two years younger than the rest of us, but he’d fit in with our little group.

Over the three months that Andrea had kept him around, I had grown to consider him a friend. When she’d broken his heart two weeks before we graduated from high school, he’d stopped coming around.

Ethan and I would smile at each other in the halls whenever we passed, but that was it. With graduation coming up, I hadn’t tried to keep our friendship intact. I hadn’t seen the point. After graduation, there was little to no chance that we would see each other again.

On top of that, my boyfriend, Joey, hadn’t been a fan of me hanging out with guy friends. He wouldn’t be rude about it, but he wouldn’t hide the fact that it made him uncomfortable. I’d liked Ethan, but attempting to stay in contact with him wouldn’t have been worth a fight with Joey.

So, for the next few years, I’d forgotten about Ethan. With the exception of a friend request that I’d sent to him on Facebook, one that he’d approved, I’d had no contact with him at all.

Until one night.

Drunk and browsing through my News Feed, I had seen his name. On a whim, I’d messaged him. It was a decision that changed everything for me. One simple message set off a chain reaction that changed every single aspect of my future.

In high school, I was the shy girl who talked to almost no one. I had a group of six or seven friends who I stuck with, content with their company. I was free to be myself around them. While I was quiet inside the walls of our school, I would be a completely different person away from it. With my friends, I’d laugh loudly, spout more sarcasm than I’d thought possible, and act like a complete goofball. I was normal around them—well, as normal as I could be.

While I was content with my friends, something was missing, something I longed for—a boyfriend. Every single teenage girl could relate to the feeling of longing when she stared at the boys walking around her in the hallways of her high school. I’d watch the girls in my classes cling to their boyfriends. Some of them would go past clinging, as they displayed their, uh…affection for everyone to see. I’d pretend not to see them, but I did. I was a professional at keeping a blank face, but inside, I was jealous of those girls.

When I reached my junior year with not even a single boyfriend under my belt, I started to wonder if maybe something was wrong with me. I knew my shyness didn’t help, but surely, that wasn’t the only reason no guy had paid attention to me, past the point of friendship.

Every morning, I’d study myself in the bathroom mirror, noting every imperfection I could see. My boobs were too small, there was a little pudge around my waist, my nose was too big, my brown hair was too plain, my green eyes were too dull, and my lips were too big.

It didn’t take long for me to sink into a depression. I had memorized every imperfection I could see, searing them into my brain.

When I walked through the halls of my high school, I was sure that every single student was noticing the same imperfections. They were taking note of them and laughing manically about me behind my back. By the time that idea had planted itself inside my head, I hated myself.

Then, something changed a few months into my junior year. A senior, Joey Sanders, spoke to me in class one afternoon. No one spoke to me, besides my friends. I was so startled that I answered him, an action my normally shy disposition would have prevented. He seemed as surprised as I was that I could actually speak. He quickly got over his shock, throwing me a smile that blinded me, a smile that showed a dimple in each of his cheeks.

For the next few weeks, Joey would speak to me in class every single day. Starved for attention, it didn’t take me long to find myself crushing on him. He was certainly crush-worthy. He kept his dark brown hair cut short. His eyes were a warm chocolate brown that lit up every time he smiled. He was tall, too, which was a serious plus since I was a little over five foot seven inches.

Until he’d spoken to me, I had barely noticed him. Afterward, all I could do was obsess over him. I’d watch him in the one class we had together. I’d search for him during lunch. I’d learned what classes he was taking and who his friends were. I was slightly obsessed, and I knew it, but I didn’t care.

If Joey thought my questions were too probing or that I glanced over at him too often, he didn’t comment. Instead, he’d continue to talk with me, laughing at my jokes. Warmth would fill my chest whenever he was around.

Less than two months after he’d spoken his first words to me, we were together. My self-esteem skyrocketed because someone like Joey wanted me. I walked around with a bounce in my step, my heart light.

I was in love with the idea of love itself, not that I realized that then. I’d thought I was in love with Joey. I was too young to know that love was rarely instant, that it took time to truly love someone. Honestly, if I had known, I wouldn’t have cared. I had been too happy to let reality take hold.

When Joey graduated that spring, I worried that things would fall apart between us. He laughed when I told him my fears and assured me that he wasn’t going anywhere. He kept his word, finding a construction job close by. He moved into his own apartment, only a few miles away from where I lived with my parents.

Every night, after I’d come home from school and he’d finished with work, he would come to my house. He would have dinner with my family, spend his evenings with us, and even sleep on our couch every once in a while. With the exception of not having him around me at school, hardly anything between us had changed.

Our feelings grew stronger with every passing day. Even though we found ourselves arguing sometimes, it didn’t hinder how I felt about him.

After one particularly bad fight that had ended with him storming out of my house and tearing down my driveway, the cold reality that he could leave me finally registered with me. It knocked me over with the force of a ton of bricks. If he left me, I’d have no one. No other man had ever shown any interest in me, and I realized I’d be all alone again. I’d go back to being an unwanted freak.

The next day, I begged for his forgiveness. I spent hours groveling before he finally accepted my apology. I hated that I was the one apologizing since he was the one who had started the argument the evening before, but I ignored that little voice in my head, too relieved that I wasn’t going to lose him.

Things moved quickly for us after I graduated from high school. Less than a month after I had been handed my diploma, I had an engagement ring on my finger. Six months after that, when I was only a few months over eighteen, I was walking down the aisle and saying, “I do,” to the one and only man who had ever paid an ounce of attention to me.

Joey and I had both come from lower-class families, so neither of us could afford to go to college after high school. Joey continued working in construction, which brought in a decent income. I attended a technical school during high school, and I was certified as a medical assistant upon graduation from high school. I found a job working at a doctor’s office, but I was miserable.

Instead of using the skills I’d acquired through school, I decided to help my dad with his business. He did body work and repairs on cars. His business had grown quite a bit over the last few years, and it was hard for him to handle everything, so I took over the paperwork and customer service portion of the work.

Neither Joey nor I were rich, but with our combined incomes, we managed to pay the bills and even put a little bit into savings each month. We were living the typical American lifestyle.

Two years after I’d become his wife, Joey and I marked off another milestone in our life together. I found out I was pregnant. I was terrified. I was only twenty years old, far too young to be a mother, in my opinion. Joey was ecstatic. Soon, his elation started to rub off on me, and I became excited, too.

But that was when things began to change between us. It was small things at first—bickering over bills or what television show to watch. I blamed my hormones as our child grew within me. At times, I would become so annoyed with Joey that we wouldn’t talk to each other for days at a time.

Just when I felt like things were at a breaking point between us, our daughter came into the world. She arrived on a Tuesday at three o’clock in the morning, kicking and screaming like a banshee. Amelia Kathryn Sanders weighed seven pounds, six ounces. She was beautiful and healthy. I instantly fell in love with her. It was amazing how something so tiny could steal my heart with only one glance.

Amelia came home, and amazingly enough, she brought peace with her. For the next few months, things settled between Joey and me. We were even kind to each other, rarely fighting, which was the complete opposite of how we had been before Amelia was born. Yes, for those few short months, things were peaceful. I was happy, content even.

But, as they said, all good things must come to an end. I’d been battling with postpartum depression since Amelia was born, but it was manageable since things were so good with Joey. That ended abruptly. It was as if a switch had been flipped overnight, and suddenly, we were fighting again. Sometimes, things would get violent. I would smack him, or he would grab my keys or my phone and throw them out of reach to keep me from leaving him or calling my parents. The relationship I had clung to so hard was slowly destroying me.

Our relationship got worse and worse until I felt like I would never see the light again. My depression worsened until I was forced to visit my doctor. He increased my medication and scheduled several consecutive appointments because he was concerned that I was headed into suicidal territory.

The fighting between Joey and me intensified. We’d have screaming matches over the littlest things. He became controlling. If he came home at night and there was even one dirty bottle or soiled diaper in view, he would freak out. He began making rules that I would have to follow, like I was no longer allowed to eat anywhere but in the kitchen. He also threw out all the junk food in the house, telling me it was time I lost the weight I’d gained while pregnant with Amelia.

Still, no matter how depressed I was, I couldn’t bring myself to leave him. It wasn’t only out of fear of being alone anymore even though that was a big part of it. I admitted to myself that I was weak for clinging to a dying relationship because I didn’t want to be on my own. I had always been weak. My low self-esteem had been a major factor in that weakness, and it was even worse now.

If I left him, I was sure I’d be alone. No one had wanted me before, so certainly, no one would want me after I’d had a child. I had stretch marks. My clothes usually had at least a tiny bit of spit-up on them. I rarely wore makeup anymore, and my hair was almost always tied up into a bun on the top of my head. I certainly wasn’t going to win any mental health or beauty awards in the near future.

The main reason I couldn’t leave Joey was because of Amelia. I didn’t want her to grow up in a broken home, seeing her father only a few times a week or a month in the way that so many children did. No, I wanted her to see us together. I wanted her to feel like she had a family she could depend on. Even though she was only an infant, I knew she would grow up faster than I could ever imagine. I wanted her childhood to be filled with happy memories of her mother and father, together. As long as we could hide our fighting from her, I was sure she would have those memories.

The man I’d once worshipped became my greatest enemy. To dull the ache in my heart and the darkness clouding my mind, I started to drink, something I’d never even been tempted to do before. I began smoking as well. I looked forward to every cigarette because it would give me an excuse to escape outside for a few minutes.

Joey noticed my drinking but made no move to stop it. In fact, he encouraged it. Maybe it was because we wouldn’t fight as much when I drank, or maybe it was because he was almost always guaranteed sex when I was drunk, something that he usually received very little of since we fought so much. Either way, my drinking settled things between us. The fighting lessened as long as I had a drink in my hand. I would wait until Amelia was asleep in her crib before I would start. Joey, despite his personality issues, was an amazing father, and he’d take care of her if she woke up at night.

And so our lives went. Things settled, and I accepted the way things were between us.

Then, something changed again.

And it was the start of this story, the real story, the one where I fell in love with another man.

I skimmed over my News Feed again, rolling my eyes, as I read a bitchy status from a girl I’d gone to high school with. Actually, it seemed like just about everyone online had something to bitch about tonight.

I peeled my eyes from my phone long enough to take a sip of my cranberry vodka before returning to the boredom that was my life. After rolling my eyes at a few more status updates, I stopped on a meme with a dog wearing sunglasses. I laughed as I read the text and then scrolled back up to see who had posted it. I was surprised to see that it was Ethan Blake. I hadn’t spoken to him in years.

Curious as to what he’d been up to since I last saw him, I tapped on his name.

I scrolled down his Timeline, looking at his posts. They were few and far between. Most of what he’d posted were funny memes or jokes. I’d forgotten that about him. He was always happy and joking around.

My interest piqued, I clicked on his information and read through it. It showed that he was still in the area and working as a mechanic. His relationship status showed he was still single. Other than that, there wasn’t much information on him.

Like the true stalker I was, I went to his pictures next. Again, there was only the bare minimum—a few profile pictures and a few photos he had been tagged in. I noted how good he looked, something that made me feel guilty almost instantly. He had certainly grown up since I last saw him, but I shouldn’t have noticed it the way I did.

His black hair was shorter than it used to be but not nearly as short as Joey’s. His hazel eyes twinkled in amusement as he smiled at the camera. I swallowed roughly as I exited out of his profile and then the entire app as well.

I picked up my glass and took another drink and then another. The alcohol soothed me. I even smiled at Joey as he walked past me. He gave me a strange look but didn’t comment. I looked away, unwilling to let the sadness of our pitiful relationship take hold of me—at least not tonight.

I took another sip of my drink as I stared down at my phone. The screen showed a photo of Amelia sitting on the floor, chewing on one of her teething toys. I smiled at the image. My baby girl was my everything. I loved her more than anything else in the entire world. She was literally the only thing that made me drag my pitiful ass out of bed in the mornings.

I continued to stare at her photo until my screen went blank. I took another drink, sighing as the alcohol numbed me, before turning my screen back on. I clicked back into the Facebook app and pulled up Ethan’s profile again. I debated for a moment before clicking on the Message button. A voice in the back of my mind warned me that it would be a bad idea to message Ethan, especially while I was drunk, but I ignored it.

Hey, Ethan. It’s been a while.

I pushed Send before dropping my phone into my lap. Guilt crippled me for a split second before I pushed it aside. Joey didn’t like it when I talked to other guys. If he knew, it would only start another fight. Still, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I simply wanted to catch up with someone I hadn’t talked to in a very long time.

My screen lit up, showing I had a new message.

Caley? Damn, it’s been a long time.

I grinned down at his message before responding.

I know. I saw your name on my feed and thought I’d see how you’ve been.

I’m good. Working a lot, as always. What about you?

I typed out the words, I’m good, but I stopped myself before I hit Send. Instead, I erased the message and typed out a new one.

Honestly, I’m drinking at the moment. Life has been crap lately.

I winced once I hit Send, instantly regretting sending that kind of message to Ethan. We had been friends, yes, but we were never close. Yet here I was, messaging him and complaining, when I’d never said a word to anyone. Granted, there weren’t many I could rant to anymore. The only friend I still had from high school was Delilah, and I hadn’t spoken with her in months. Everyone else had moved on after graduation, forgetting about me.

He replied after a few minutes.

How so?

I bit my lips as I debated on how to respond. I could lie and make up something about my job or another superficial complaint, or I could tell the truth to this man. He was practically a stranger now with no place in my life. He probably didn’t even know Joey. They were almost three years apart in age and had never crossed paths, as far as I knew. If Ethan judged me for complaining to him, it wouldn’t matter. He wouldn’t go running to Joey or tell anyone about me. Our lives were no longer connected at all.

I think I hate my husband. He’s so cruel to me. I’m just miserable with my life, I guess.

I didn’t regret the words. In fact, I felt almost free. I had said them—or rather, texted them—for the first time in my life.

His response was almost instant.

Cruel? Is he hurting you?

He isn’t beating me, if that’s what you mean. We’ve gotten into it a few times, and he’s thrown things, but he’s never hit me. He’s just cruel with his words and actions.

I waited, hoping that Ethan would keep talking with me. I felt lighter already, only a few sentences taking the weight from my shoulders.

A man hitting a woman is about the worst thing I can think of, but verbal and mental abuse is almost as bad. Why are you still with him if he’s like this? You should leave.

I frowned.

I have a child with him. I can’t just walk away because he hurts my feelings.

Several minutes passed without a response. I frowned before taking another drink. I was worried that Ethan had suddenly decided I wasn’t worth talking to anymore. My heart skipped a beat when my phone screen lit up, showing that I had a new message from him.

Having a child definitely makes things difficult but not impossible.

I want Amelia to have a happy life, growing up. I don’t want her memories to be filled with being taken back and forth between him and me.

Eh, I see your point, I guess. I just can’t imagine being stuck with someone I despised, feeling completely miserable for the rest of my life.

I reread his words twice, trying to decipher whether or not he was being a smart-ass before deciding that he probably was.

You know what? Never mind. I can see that you’re judging me already. I think I’d better go.

I was surprised at how angry I had become over a single message. I’d expected Ethan to maybe feel sorry for me, but I had never expected him to tell me that I should leave my husband. That was…unthinkable. I couldn’t. I had Amelia to think about.

Hey, I didn’t mean to piss you off, so calm down. I just meant that no one should be forced to live a life that makes them miserable. We used to be friends once, Caley, and I thought a lot of you back then. You’re a sweet girl, and you deserve a happy life. That was all I was trying to say.

My anger dissolved instantly, and I felt like a complete fool.

I’m sorry.

Don’t be. I understand.

I sighed, torn between continuing to talk to Ethan and going to bed. My head was starting to swim, and I knew it wouldn’t take long before my messages would start suffering a painful grammatical death. I’d made enough of a fool of myself for one night. It was time for bed.

I need to go to bed. Amelia will be up early. Good night, Ethan. It was good talking with you.

Good night. Don’t wait another few years to message me again, okay? Tonight made me realize that I’ve missed talking to you. You can shoot me a message on here or send me a text whenever you need someone to talk to.

He sent another message with his phone number. I smiled. It was so nice to have someone act kind toward me for once. The nicest thing Joey had done for me lately was filling up my glass when it was almost empty.

Thank you for listening to me tonight. We’ll definitely have to talk again soon. Night!

I saved Ethan’s number in my phone under the name Elena, fearing that Joey would get angry if he realized I was talking with a guy. Once that was done, I pulled my Messenger application back up and clicked on Ethan’s conversation. I reread our chat one more time before deleting the messages. I felt a twinge of guilt as I deleted them, but I pushed it aside. The only reason I was getting rid of them was because Joey would overreact if he saw a guy’s name in my messages. If he wasn’t so controlling, I wouldn’t have to sneak around like I had something to hide.

I plugged my phone into the charger and set it down on the table. After carrying my empty glass to the kitchen and placing it in the sink, I headed toward the bedroom where I knew Joey would be awake and waiting for me. The Ethan-induced smile on my face slowly slid away as I opened the door and laid my eyes on my husband.

Two weeks had passed without a word from Ethan. Every night, I’d stare at my phone, both debating on messaging him and willing him to send me a message. Every night, I’d go to bed, disappointed.

It was a strange feeling to crave someone’s attention. Normally, I shied away from any kind of interaction unless it was forced upon me. Even with my few friends and acquaintances, I’d only speak to them when they called or messaged me, and the interactions would be brief. I just wasn’t a people person.

Apparently, I was an Ethan person though.

As I struggled to understand why I wanted to so badly talk to him again, my interactions with Joey became more and more strained. Amelia was teething, crying constantly, and overall, being evil. Her dismal mood seemed to embed itself in me as well. Emotionally, I was at the end of my rope. Something needed to change, or I was going to snap.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. Pushing aside my pride, I decided I was going to cave and message Ethan again. After making sure that Joey would watch Amelia, I grabbed my pack of cigarettes and walked outside. I sat down on the asphalt, several feet away from the main entrance of our apartment building, and pulled out a cigarette. I lit it up and inhaled deeply, allowing it to calm me. Once the nicotine entered my system, I pulled out my phone and sent Ethan a message.

I think teething babies are part demon.

The text was random, but it was all I could think of. I chuckled to myself. I was a moron.

He replied back.

Why?

With the way Amelia has been screaming, there’s no other explanation. It’s awful.

Have you tried a cold wet washcloth? It helped my nephew when he was teething. He was also part demon at the time.

I’d forgotten that Ethan had an older sister. I’d met her once or twice in school, but she was a few years older than me, and we hadn’t run in the same social circles, so I knew very little about her. One of the only things I did know was that she’d gotten pregnant her senior year. The rumors had swirled around our school for weeks after people had found out. It had been so widespread that even I had heard some of them.

That seems to be the only thing that helps. I feel so bad for her. :/

It’ll pass. You just have to hang in there until it does. How are things going for you?

I hope it passes quickly. Things are the same. They never change.

Hmm, I was hoping that you were exaggerating the other night because you were drinking.

Nope, not exaggerating at all. My mood has been even worse since Amelia has been so fussy. I think she’s stressing both of us out. I feel so bad for saying this, but I kind of just want to run away for a while.

Then, do it.

Do what?

Run away for a little bit. I mean, don’t actually run away. Just get out of the house for a bit. Let him watch Amelia. You need some time alone to reset.

I frowned.

I doubt if he’d let me leave just like that.

Don’t ask. Tell. Then, get in your car and drive. Get out of the house for an hour or two. It’ll help a lot.

I bit my lip as I stared at my phone. I would love to get away for a while, but I feared it would start another fight with Joey. At this point, I couldn’t take any more fighting.

I finally typed out a reply.

I’m afraid it’ll only make things worse.

If wanting to leave for an hour or two starts a fight, then he needs professional help. Everyone has a limit, Caley, and I think you’ve reached yours.

Instead of answering, I locked my phone and took another hit off my cigarette. Escaping for even an hour sounded like absolute heaven. I loved Amelia, but I couldn’t handle the crying anymore. I’d already joined in with her as she wailed once or twice today. If tonight was anything like last night, I knew I’d have to endure even more crying and absolutely no sleep. That thought pushed me into action. I couldn’t handle staying home all evening and then dealing with a night full of crying and screaming.

I stood and walked back up to our apartment. When I stepped inside, Amelia was sleeping in her swing. That sight alone calmed my nerves. Joey was sitting on the couch a few feet away from her. His eyes were glued on the TV.

“I’m going out,” I said, careful to keep my voice low in fear of waking Amelia.

He glanced up at me. “Where?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I think I’m just going to go for a drive. I need to get away for a little while. I won’t be gone for more than an hour or two.”

He suspiciously eyed me. “Why do you suddenly need to get away from here?”

“Hmm, maybe because Amelia has done nothing but scream for the past few days. I’m stressed, Joey. I’ve barely slept for more than an hour or two in the last forty-eight hours. I’ve reached my limit, okay? I have to leave, or I’m going to explode.”

He rolled his eyes. “And I’m not stressed out, too?”

I clenched my hands at my sides, trying my hardest not to start fighting with him. “You slept through the night without any interruption. Today, your ass has been parked on that couch the whole day, only getting up to take a piss. I think you held her twice, so I could go to the bathroom.”

He glared at me. “So, you’re saying I’m a shit father?”

I laughed, but it sounded all wrong. “I’m not saying that, Joey. I’m just saying that I need to have a little me time.”

He continued to glare at me before glancing over at Amelia. “What am I supposed to do if she wakes up and starts crying again?”

“Pick her up, rock her, give her a cold washcloth to chew on. You’ve watched me take care of her all day. You know what to do.”

He sighed. “Fine. But be back here in an hour. I’ll be hungry by then.”

Instead of demanding he give me more time, I just nodded and turned away. I grabbed my keys and tore out of the apartment before he could change his mind. If I was allowed only an hour, I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste it hanging around here.

When I reached my car, I glanced down at my phone. It was flashing with a new message. I unlocked it to see a few messages from Ethan, all of them asking where I’d disappeared to.

I was busy telling Joey that I needed some me time. I’m in my car now. Ah, I did it!

Ha-ha. How brave of you. So, where are you going to go?

No idea, but I have a whole hour to myself. I’m probably just going to drive around with the windows down and the radio turned up.

That sounds like a good way to spend an hour. Want some company?

What do you mean?

Well, if you don’t mind someone riding shotgun, I was going to suggest that you come pick me up. I’m about ten minutes away from our old high school. I have no idea where you live now, so I don’t know how close I am to you.

My eyes widened as I read his message. I wanted to pick him up, but I knew it would be a bad idea.

What if someone I knew saw me picking him up? What if Joey found out somehow? He would be furious. No, furious wasn’t a strong enough word for how angry he would be.

I messaged back.

What’s your address?

When Ethan responded, I smiled. He lived within fifteen minutes of my place.

I’ll pick you up in fifteen.


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