He's A Free Bird Now
“Shiiiiiiiiit,” I shrieked in horror as I heard the storage closet door creak.
I was about to change into jeans and a blouse when someone yanked the door open. I yelped, quickly covering my chest with my orange blouse.
I regret sitting on my Range Rover’s hood during the thunderstorm. I wouldn’t be in this awkward position if I hadn’t sat in the downpour.
“You’re the girl that Mario was talking about. Long black hair with short bangs and forest green eyes. Flawless facial features and a muscular body. Damn, he was spot on,” said a shocked muscular guy as he glanced at me.
Who the hell is this delicious man? He looks like he stepped out of an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement.
The man had tattoos covering his forearms all the way up to the side of his neck. His pierced earlobes showcased silver diamond studs that vertically adorned his ears all the way up to the curves.
His mouth morphed into a pearly white grin that matched his shining bright blue eyes. His eyes were so beautiful; the light reflecting off of them made his eyes even brighter. And of course, his gorgeous jet black hair with electric blue at the tips of his gelled hair further accentuated his eyes.
He was absolutely stunning and super handsome.
“Ah I see, you know Mario. What the hell are you doing here at 7 in the morning,” I responded with annoyance. My cheeks must have been flaming red by now from embarrassment. Mario, the manager of Too Tasty hadn’t even mentioned anyone stopping by this morning.
Tattoos laughed at my irritation and said, “Why am I not surprised that Mario forgot to mention that I’d be stopping by while he went on his trip to Italy?”
I raised a brow and glared at Tattoos. I was still top naked and mortified by the fact that this stranger was still standing in front of me, his eyes raking my body in appreciation.
So Mario ditched me here with a complete stranger. Wonderful. I hope he’s not a pervert.
“Turn the bloody hell around Tattoos. I need to put a freaking shirt on,” I spoke. My voice shook from fear of the guy seeing the scars on my back of my neck and back.
Tattoos looked at me with his sapphire blue eyes and nodded as he complied which surprised me. Not a single quip to get a second look.
Hmm, now that’s interesting. Maybe his mother taught him to be respectful.
“Why are you back here anyway? Mario didn’t tell me about a new employee,” I asked curiously as I yanked on my blouse and started buttoning up my top. I shivered from the slight breeze that came from the doorway.
Tattoos chuckled and slowly turned around to face me so I could see his dimpled grin. I was fully clothed and so I stepped out of the storage closet in hopes that my awkward moment could be put behind us.
I hope he isn’t just a pretty face with a shit attitude like my father was. I couldn’t understand why I wanted Tattoos to be a decent man. Maybe it was that he was hot...or maybe it was because I was painstakingly lonely without my sisters here with me.
“I’m Knox Harrison, Mario’s grandson. I’m around at the diner from time to time,” Knox aka Tattoos replied with a huge smile directed towards me.
“Wonderful, I’m Karina. So how come I’ve never seen you arou--?” I started to say when I heard the bell connected to the diner’s doors ring. The sound reminded me that I had work to do. As much as I wanted to continue this conversation with Knox, I had to get ready for breakfast hours at the bakery.
Knox seems confused by my reaction at a simple sound but answers, “perhaps you weren’t looking hard enough. I haven’t seen you around but I’ve definitely heard a lot of good things about you from Mario.”
I smiled at Knox as I walked into the back of the bakery to find the clean coffee pots and coffee beans.
“Maybe I’ll see you around more often Knox,” I said sincerely as I looked into his crystal blue eyes. I yearned to run my fingers through his silky hair but I refrained when I heard a voice from the past.
“Hello Karina, it’s been a while, now hasn’t it sweetie?” said a nasal voice.
I turned around to look in front of me and gasped when I saw who was standing in front of the baked goods display.
Of course, it was Seth, the demented asshole who watched my father ruin my family’s life.
He was ugly from the inside and outside. Scars marred his face and trust me when I say that they weren’t from fighting for a good cause.
I felt Knox staring at my face, undoubtedly because of my ridiculous reaction. He moved closer to me as if he thought I needed protection.
I don’t want to talk to you Seth. Just talk to Tattoos and walk away.
I wasn’t lucky enough to get my wish. Especially since I was the only waitress willing to work the early-bird hours.
Seth’s cold, calculating eyes met mine and my heart skipped a beat as he treaded towards me. Staring into his eyes felt like being blasted by cold air from an air conditioner. At first, it was uncomfortable but later, you could control the amount of cold air that filtered through once you got over the initial shock.
I took a step forward and put my best acting skills to use. “How can I help you, sir,” I drawled out in well-disguised contempt as I looked him up and down. He may smell like Versaci cologne but trust me, Seth lacked sophistication in the same way that he lacked humanity.
“I’m here to deliver a little message. Watch your back bitch, you don’t want to end up like your mother,” Seth drawled out, mocking my previous words.
I merely raised an eyebrow at his warning but inside, my blood was boiling. I was confused about what he meant but I was also incredibly pissed at him for mentioning my dead mother who had been the biggest role model in my life.
“Walk your bitch-ass out the front doors and shut the fuck up. You weren’t a man five years ago and you certainly aren’t one now. So do the world a favor and get lost,” I said with a calm façade.
Seth’s happy go lucky air dispersed, transforming into hatred directed towards me.
I leaned in and whispered, “You think my father really cares about you? He has no honor so whatever he offered you, remember that the price is your soul. You’re just a puppet...a means to an end.”
His eyes narrowed in anger at my words but to be completely honest, I didn’t care. I felt numb.
I was vaguely aware of the intrusive eyes on the whole scene but I was too far gone to give two shits. I continued my work with the coffee machine and tried to stay calm.
Why is Knox still here, standing by my side? A normal person would have abandoned me by now. Why is he supporting me?
I turned around and saw Seth engaged in a staring contest with Knox. Gone was the playful Knox that I had met a few minutes ago. There was a man whose eyes were shining with blistering rage that replaced happy go lucky Knox.
Seth’s malicious laugh carried through the bakery and I felt the goosebumps rise on my arms.
“He’s a free bird now, fresh outta prison,” snarled Seth in my direction as he whistled an ominous tune.
My blood ran cold. I shoved past Knox and headed into the bakery’s kitchen to get to work.
I bit my lip so hard that I tasted blood in my mouth as I viciously slammed pots and pans in search of my muffin tray. I couldn’t think about the person who had murdered my mother in cold blood. He sucked the life out of the person who cared for my sisters and me, knowing that he’d break us if he killed her. So he killed her.
My father was the best example of a handsome man but he shared the personality resemblance to a devil’s offspring. He was kind to everyone in public but a jerk when you were alone with him. He made my mother forge signatures, cheat, lie, and even sleep around with his righthand man Ryker who was also a royal bastard.
No matter how nice someone may act in public, you’ll never know if they had good intentions.
I knew from experience. But, I also knew that I wanted a better life than my mother. I want to do everything that my mother never got the chance to do. She never got to freely make decisions without being forced to think about my father’s reaction. We weren’t allowed to wear short skirts, crop tops, go hang out with friends, or even have our own job. I wanted my sisters, Teela and Maven, to have a happier life and be free of---.
My thoughts and loud clanging were interrupted by Knox who held up my muffin tray as a peace offering. The bright white lights in the kitchen must've highlighted the ugly tears brimming on my eyelids as I sighed in frustration.
I turned away from Knox to preheat the oven since I'd already left the batter for the chocolate fudge muffins ready last night. I forced myself to think of a happy place and the tears in my eyes receded.
"Sorry about before Knox. I didn't expect him to be here," I said, slightly embarrassed once again this morning.
"I may not know you Karina but all I know is that I don't want that man to be around you ever. Give me your phone sweetheart," Knox said, emotion swirling in his eyes.
I gestured towards my purse hanging on the hook near the kitchen's back exit.
"My phone's in my purse in the first zip," I replied in slight confusion. I still couldn't understand why he even cared. Most people run away from danger and emotional baggage.
I finished filling the batter into the muffin tray and slid the tray into the oven once I heard the preheated timer go off. I was so focused on cleaning up my workspace that when I turned around to walk to the fridge, I slammed into Knox's chest.
I rubbed my nose a little and Knox's warm chuckle made me smile. He stepped even closer to me and lifted me up to put me on a clean portion of the counter. I recognized the Fahrenheit cologne that he was wearing because my father used to love shopping at Abercrombie and Fitch. I inhaled and enjoyed the scent whilst pushing away the bad memories.
He wrapped his arms around my waist and crushed my body to his. Knox's hands and arms were hot while my body was cold. The comfort he gave me made me feel welcome and safe. I felt his heat transferring to my body so I held on tighter without even meaning to. I don't know how long we stayed in an embrace but I knew I had to pull away. The bakery wouldn't run itself.
"Knox, I---," I started to say but Knox put a finger to my cherry red lips.
"I want you to text or call me every time you leave this bakery," he said to me. The intensity of his eyes raking my body made me want to combust again. If I thought his hug was hot, the concern for me in his eyes was even sexier.
I nodded and went to hop down from the counter but was stopped by Knox. I looked into his blue eyes and saw that he wanted me to trust him so I let myself relax in his presence for a moment.
He gently lifted me from the counter and waved goodbye with a huge smile.
HOLY SHIT, THAT MAN IS HOT AS FUCK. I FEEL LIKE I'M ON FIRE.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts and went back to baking. There were only a few customers at the moment so I could focus on making some delicious treats. In that moment, I knew that I wanted to see Knox again