Too Tasty

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I Don't Slow Down

After a sleepless night, I woke up at 4 am before my alarm even went off and decided to go for a run on Burberry Street. I grabbed my keys house keys and started jogging towards downtown.

It was dead quiet on the streets. Not a single car was driving along the road and nor were there any animals making noises.

It was just me, myself, and I with the dawn sky that slowly brightened as the minutes passed.

Soon the sun would rise and another day of work would begin. Some people would say that it's sad that I have no goals in my life except to work hard and live an honest life to provide for my sisters who were in Connecticut. Others would say that I had it all. Two jobs, two sisters, and access to exclusive parties since I worked as a part-time baker.

The way I looked at my life was that I did what I needed to survive and make a living. I guess surviving and living aren't the same thing but at least I've made it this far.

I may not be happy but my sisters were alive and so was I. I shouldn't be asking for anything more because after my mom died, there was no one else to be happy for. My sisters lived in Connecticut which was far from me but I was in Maryland so that I could build my career.

My father's face popped into my mind causing me to suck in a deep breath. My tears mixed with my sweat but my chest felt heavy with grief and anger.

My mother deserved a better life. One where she was happy. She shouldn't have had to sleep around with Ryker for money to feed my siblings and I. She shouldn't have had to teach her kids to be cautious of men and who they let into their lives.

I didn’t deserve a shitty childhood and nor did my two sisters. They could have been so much happier.

The mental stress that we had to go through together would’ve pushed weaker people to their breaking point. But I guess I am a hypocrite because when my mom died, it broke me.

Yet, I’m still standing. All I know is that I need to keep moving forward. If not for myself, then at least for my sisters.

My mother should’ve divorced my father the day he revealed his true nature. I pushed myself to run even faster. I wish I had told my mother how much I loved her.

My father was the villainous entity all along and I was too stupid to not realize it sooner. My legs were burning from exhaustion but I kept going.

My mom should be here, not ---.

“Shouldn't you be asleep right now?” said an amused voice. He sounded familiar so I stopped sprinting and slowed into a backwards jog so I could completely stop running if I needed to.

My breath was coming out in short huffs and my shirt was drenched with lots of sweat. I must’ve looked like a train wreck with sweat dripping down my face and tears seeping out of my eyes. I quickly swiped at my wet eyes and glanced up.

What a great surprise. Knox Harrison. The one guy I wanted to see but didn't want to see at this moment, considering my appearance.

“Shouldn't you?” I retorted. I took in Knox's appearance and he was dressed in business casual attire. He looked hot with his white button-down shirt rolled up at his forearms. It brought out his unique tattoos that covered his arms. Even his black jeans brought out the blue in his eyes and contrasted nicely with his white shirt.

What the hell was he doing awake and ready this early in the morning? Was he following me?

"Maybe, but then I wouldn't be talking to you right now," Knox replied with a twinkle in his eyes. His eyes took in my sweaty apparel but then shifted back to my eyes. He could probably see the rings around my red and puffy eyes that apparently wouldn't stop with the river of tears that mingled with my sweat.

I sighed and looked Knox dead in the eyes. He like a decent human being but who knows? Maybe he's a real jerk.

"What is it that you want from me? There's not much that I can give you," I said distrustfully, anxiously wringing my hands together. I glanced down the street and saw that nobody was around. It was definitely odd to see Knox here.

Knox's smile turned into a frown as he put his hands up in a peaceful gesture. I think he realized that I was 5 seconds away from leaving him standing there in the middle of the sidewalk.

"Honestly, I just thought that you might need a lift since I was driving home from work. And it was kind of weird to see someone running outside in the middle of the morning so I wanted to make sure that you were okay," Knox replied, staring at my taut body.

I felt stressed just from having a normal conversation with a man. How stupid is that? This was the same man who hugged me and made me feel comfortable, even for a few moments.

"Who drives home from work at 4 in the morning?" I asked, still unsure of his motive as I scrutinized him.

Knox's dragon tattoo on his neck pulsed as he answered, "Well when you're friends with some higher-up people, the time doesn't matter. You just report to work. I'm a businessman so life is hectic all the time for me."

I'm a businessman.

Knox's words echoed in my head. It was like those three words were on loop in my mind and suddenly it felt hard to breathe.

I felt myself spiraling down memory lane and my breaths became labored.

"What don't you understand?" my father shouted at my mother.

"Dropping my employees off may not be my job but it's necessary to make sure that they get home safe. If my employees don't come to work, how am I going to make money? I am a businessman after all," he screamed at my mother.

My mother sobbed, listening to the lies tumble out of his mouth.

"You cheating on me has nothing to do with being a businessman. You gave up on your family for somebody half your age. Amanda was your goddamn employee! She was using you for your money and body. Sex isn't everything in life. Have you forgotten that you're a married man with three children?" my mother retorted.

Her sobs could be heard through my bedroom wall.

"You don't get to tell me what to do. Just get out Nikki and don't come back until midnight," he screamed.

I heard the sound of breaking wood and grunts of pain from my mother.

There was nothing my sisters and I could do at that moment.

We were frozen in our room together.

Paralyzed and numb as we heard the front door shut after my father dragged my mother out of the house.

I faintly heard my name being called by someone but I was struggling to breathe. I tried sucking in breaths of air but my lungs didn't want to cooperate.

"Listen to me Karina, you're okay. Look into my eyes and breathe with me," a soft voice repeated until I forced my head to comply and look into his eyes.

Bright blue eyes stared into my green eyes. I took deep breaths, following Knox's example. I felt my heart rate return to a normal pace and my eyes cleared.

I looked up at Knox who was rubbing soothing circles on my back whilst crouching next to me on the sidewalk. I didn't even know how long we'd been sitting on the floor together but it made me feel vulnerable.

Knox noticed my change in demeanor and gently backed away from me but I hooked my arm through his to stop him. Something felt right about him being right next to me.

"Sorry and thank you," I said quietly as I raised my head to meet his eyes.

We sat in silence for a moment before Knox spoke.

"Do you want to get a cup of coffee with me at the Cafe? It's open 24/7," he asked me. I felt his gaze on me as he scanned my body for any blemishes.

I unhooked my arm from his as I contemplated his offer.

He'd either ask for an explanation or he'd want something else from me. Fuck it, I should take a shot in the dark and just do it.

"Why not? Let's go," I responded, wondering why the hell I said yes. Maybe I was feeling adventurous.

Knox's face completely brightened when he tossed a grin in my direction.

"You're driving girl. Let's see whether you can drive as good as you can run," he said with a jesting attitude. I raised an eyebrow and laughed at him.

I caught his BMW keys as he tossed them to me and climbed into the driver's seat.

"You're going to regret offering me these. Once my foot's on the accelerator, I don't slow down," I said, grinning at his ignorance. He shrugged and pointed towards his car.

One of the few things in life that gave me pleasure was car racing and working out in the gym.

But, Knox didn't know that.

He was in for an adrenaline rush.

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