Jack sat in the living room of his and Cam’s house, watching TV and trying not to think about what was playing over and over in his head. Cam was upstairs in his bedroom, undoubtedly doing the same thing, Jack suspected. Jack had inherited an enormous house after the death of his biological father. That was the only thing Jack could honestly say he had contributed to his life. Jack never knew his father, and had been raised by Cam’s father since Jack was only 4. Jack considered Linc Williams to be his father, and even bared his last name. After finding out 4 years ago that he had received this house in his late father’s will, it was sort of a given that Cam would move in with him, and it had worked out perfectly ever since.
Jack heard a knock on the front door and glanced at the clock. Who the hell was here at 1am? Being as cautious as always, Jack clicked his revolver into the holster on his hip. He made his way to the front door, and, unlocking the deadbolt, opened the heavy wooden door to reveal a soaking wet Kallie standing on his porch.
“Kallie? What the hell? Are you alright? What’s wrong?” Jack could tell she was distraught. He pulled her in out of the rain and locked the door behind her.
“I’m-I’m sorry Jack. I just didn’t know where else to go.” Kallie tucked her soaked blonde hair behind her ear, and Jack saw it. A huge, purple bruise on her right eye and cheek bone. Jack clenched his teeth.
“Kallie. Did Drew do this?” Without looking up, Kallie nodded slowly. Jack ran his hands down her arms and felt the chill of her skin through her thin shirt.
Cam bounded down the stairs. “Is someone here? I heard the-“ Cam saw Kallie standing in the foyer first, and then he saw the gruesome purple mark on her face. “I’ll kill him.” Cam grabbed his jacket from the hall closet and unlocked the deadbolt.
Kallie ran over to Cam and grabbed his arm. “Cameron, please. Don’t. He’s not worth it. Don’t-don’t leave.”
“Kal, he can’t get away with this. This is crazy. Have you seen your face?!” Actually, Kallie hadn’t had the heart to look; she knew what it felt like.
“Let’s deal with this the right way. Kallie, why don’t you go upstairs, take a hot shower and dry your hair. Its freezing outside and I don’t want you to get sick. Cam, go and get Kallie some clean, warm clothes. I’m going to put together an ice pack for her face.” Cam and Kallie went upstairs and he showed her where the nearest bathroom was.
As Kallie went to enter the bathroom door, Cam lightly grabbed her wrist and spun her around. “Kallie. He can’t get away with this. I know this is not the first time he’s put his hands on you. Let me set him straight.”
Surprising him, Kallie pulled her arm out of Cam’s hand and walked right into his arms. Kallie had never really shown anyone much physical affection , but she felt so comfortable and safe with Cam. Cam automatically wrapped his arms around her and planted a small kiss on her hair. “Thanks Cam. But you can’t answer violence with violence. It’s not right, and then you would just be in trouble too.”
“It would be worth it to know that asshole got what he deserved. “ Kallie gave him a small sad smile and went into the bathroom, starting the expensive, intricate shower and letting the hot steam fill up the enormous bathroom. Stepping under the steaming water, her body relaxed. She felt the tension leave her shoulders and her headache melt away. Before she’d met Jack and Cam, she had never trusted anyone enough to let them in on so many details of her life. She just felt so comfortable with them and felt like she could trust them with anything. Kallie took her time in the shower, slowly washing her hair, face, and body, taking care to go extra slow over the bruised and sore spots on her body. She made sure not to scrub the still raw mark on her neck from the knife blade. Turning off the shower, Kallie dried herself off with one of the clean towels on a large white cabinet in the corner. She saw that Cam had left her a clean pair of gray sweatpants, a white hooded sweatshirt, and a hair dryer on the small table just inside of the bathroom door. Kallie quickly dried her hair and pulled it up into a messy top knot. She dressed in the borrowed clothes and tied the drawstring on the sweatpants as tightly as they would go. Kallie took a deep breath and for the first time all night, got a good look at herself in the mirror. With the sweatshirt on, she could just see the top of the shallow knife wound, but that was definitely not the first thing you would notice when you looked at her. Her lips parted and she gasped. Her right eye was red and swollen. Underneath her eye was a large purple bruise with a small cut in the center. Kallie felt ashamed with herself for letting the abuse go on for this long. No more, she promised herself. I will get back on my feet alone and make sure that no one will EVER hurt me like this ever again.
Downstairs, Jack packed a large freezer bag full of crushed ice. He wrapped the bag in a soft, thin towel and put it on the counter to wait for Kallie to come down. Jack felt sick. He couldn’t imagine someone doing this to a woman. He felt disgusted at himself for not doing something about it weeks ago when he suspected that this was going on.
“Hey.” Jack snapped up out of his self loathing reverie and saw Kallie leaning in the doorway. He silently chuckled to himself that someone could make baggy sweatpants and a messy bun look so freaking sexy.
Cam got right up off of the stool and offered it to Kallie. “Here, sit up here so Jack can get a good look at it. He has medical training; he will be able to tell you if you need to go to the hospital.”
Climbing onto the stool, she made herself comfortable as Jack got the ice pack. Kallie tilted her chin up and looked Jack square in the eyes. He froze.
Holy shit. Jack’s jaw dropped in an involuntary reaction. She had grey eyes. Not like, stormy sky colored grey, but like, clear, crisp, pure, soul bearing grey.
Kallie furrowed her brow. “What? Is something wrong?”
“No, no, not at all. Your eyes; they’re grey. The color just threw me off for a second.”
“Yeah, Drew thinks so too. He hates the grey color; he makes me wear brown contacts so he doesn’t have to look at the color.”
“No, Kallie, the color is, like, amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s kind of cool.”
“Really? Thanks,” Kallie smiled. She didn’t understand Jack sometimes; one second he was proper and distant, and the next second he made comments like that.
Jack placed the ice pack on Kallie’s face. The initial contact made her flinch, but the cooling sensation immediately made her eye begin to feel better. Kallie couldn’t take her eyes of Jack’s face. He wasn’t looking back, only concentrating on making sure the ice pack didn’t press on her injury too hard. His concentration face was kind of cute, but she wouldn’t tell him that.
“I can hold it, Jack. Thank you though.”“Um, okay. Kal, do you mind if I call my partner? I know your life has nothing to do with me, but I would really like for him to have a heads up, in case you decide to press charges. Evan would be able to take your statement and process any paperwork since he is not involved.”
Kallie thought for a second. She could trust Cam and Jack, but could she trust Evan? If Jack trusted Evan with his life, shouldn’t she be able to trust him too? “Yeah, that’s fine. I don’t want you to be mad at me Jack, but I’m still not sure what I want to press charges.”
Cam interjected. “Kallie-“
Jack shook his head at his brother. “No Cam. This has to be her decision. We can help her through whatever she decides, but she has to make up her own mind. Until then, Kallie can stay here.”
“No, Jack, thank you but that’s okay. I don’t want to interrupt your whole life.”
In his head, Jack admitted to himself that Kallie had already turned his whole world upside down. “It’s not an issue at all. Stay. We have plenty of extra rooms, and we could probably use a woman around here to keep us in check.” Jack smirked and gently squeezed her arm.
“Okay. I’ll stay. But just for a little while until I get everything sorted out.”
The next morning, Kallie woke up and glanced at the clock. 11 am! Drew never let her sleep past 8am sharp. There was too much to be done around the house, he said. She wondered what he was doing right this second- she was sure he realized that she was gone and was probably looking for her. Or maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was happy to get rid of her, and the thought actually gave Kallie a small sense of relief.
Kallie couldn’t remember the last time she slept so well. Jack had put her in a large room decorated in all pale green and white. The carpets were a thick, plush mint green and so was the comforter. The sheets and all of the furniture was a crisp, clean white. There was a large plasma TV mounted to the wall, and an even larger picture window overlooking a spacious backyard. The room had a beautiful attached bathroom with a large mirror, vanity, and shower. It was exactly how Kallie would design a room for herself. She sat up slowly, stretching out her muscles and surveying her injuries. She was sore, but she felt better and more refreshed. Kallie saw that the clothes she had worn here last night were neatly folded and on the dresser. She realized that she was going to have to go in to Drew’s house and get her clothes. Just the thought of that made Kallie anxious. She hadn’t had an anxiety attack in a few months, but she thought that being back in his house might trigger one. Hopefully Jack or Cam would go with her. She quickly dressed in her own clothes and went into the bathroom. She gingerly washed her face and brushed her teeth with a new toothbrush that she found in a package underneath the sink. Kallie pulled out her hair tie and finger combed her hair; she figured that when her hair was down, the bruise on her face wasn’t as visible.
Jack and Cam’s house was beautiful. Every room had high, arching ceilings and big windows. There were two large staircases in the house at opposite ends of the second floor, one that led into the front foyer and the other that opened up into the kitchen. The kitchen itself was slightly dated, but the room was large and had an ornate island in the middle of the room. High, heavy chairs lined the island, and a small kitchen table sat in the corner. A large living room connected to the kitchen, with plush grey furniture and a cream colored carpet. An expensive flat screen television was mounted on the wall, and below it were many state-of-the-art game systems and movie players. Kallie hadn’t seen Jack or Cam’s room, but she assumed that they were just as beautifully decorated as the rooms she had seen.
Padding quietly down the stairs, Kallie went to the kitchen, looking for either Jack or Cam. She found Cam sitting at the breakfast bar, eating a bowl of cereal and looking adorable in his pajama pants and bed head.
“Morning beautiful! Sleep well?”
“Actually; yeah. I did. Surprisingly; but it’s kind of impossible not to in that amazing room I was in.”
“Jack hired an interior decorator when he moved in; this layout definitely wouldn’t be so nice if it was him or I that had a hand in it.”
Kallie laughed. “Well, she did an amazing job. This house is beautiful. You and Jack must love it here.”
“We do, but it’s big and quiet. It will be nice to have you here for a while.”“Thanks Cam. Where is Jack? I need to ask him something.”
“He left a note on the counter; he said he had some errands to run and he was up early so he decided to go. Why, whats up? Is it something I can help you with?”
“I need my clothes from Drew’s house, but I don’t want to just show up on his doorstep.”
“Yeah, good plan. I’ll text him to see what time he’ll be home.”
Cam scooped his iPhone off of the counter. He quickly texted Jack and plugged his phone back into its charger. A few minutes later, the phone gave a shrill ring.
“Cameron! Do not let her go there by herself! Are you insane?! Keep her there!”
“Whoa, chill out bro. She’s not going anywhere. We just wanted to know when you would be home so we could make a plan of action. Easy, damn.”
“Okay. I just didn’t want her to jump the gun. I’ll be home in a half an hour.”
“Okay, see you later.”
Kallie and Cam went in to the huge living room, lounged out on the plush couches and waited for Jack. Cam flipped through the channels on the TV to try to find something interesting to watch.
“Hey Cam, can I tell you something?”
Cam clicked the volume down on the TV. “Of course! What’s up?”
“Well. Drew and I… we’re not actually married.”
Cam sat up in surprise and turned the television completely off. “Wait, what??”
“We’re not married. Drew likes to tell people that because he feels like it makes me ‘less accessible’ to other men if I’m a married woman. I know I’m stupid for staying with him, but I wouldn’t have been that stupid.”
Cam laughed. “Well, that’s really interesting to know, actually. You guys kept that secret pretty well.”
Kallie looked down sadly. “Yeah, I know. I just did what I was told.”“Hey. Kal. Don’t be sad. That’s all in the past now; no worries.”
The front door lock clicked and Jack walked into the foyer. “Hey, I’m home!”
“We’re in here Jack!” Cameron called.
Jack sauntered in to the living room. He had a few large brown shopping bags in his hands that he placed in the den that adjoined the living room from the left.
“How are you feeling this morning, Kallie?”
“Good, actually. Cam took care of me.” Kallie winked at Cam.
“Yeah, I figured it was okay, since she’s a single woman and all.”
Kallie rolled her eyes. “In case you were wondering why Cam made that weird comment just now, it’s because I told him that Drew and I aren’t actually married, even though he tells everyone we are. I’ve wanted to tell you guys that since the first time we met and Drew kept flaunting that ‘wife’ label whenever he could.”
Jack raised his eyebrows. “Wow. I didn’t expect that. Anything else you want to spill?”
Kallie looked up shyly. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
“So what’s our plan to get into this house?” Cam asked excitedly. “Breaking a window? Going through the basement? Calling the alarm company and pretending we actually live there so when they show up they will open the door for us?”
Kallie and Jack both looked at Cam in amazement.
“You’ve been planning this for a while?” Jack asked.
Jack looked at Kallie. “Do you know the alarm code?”
Kallie nodded. “And I have a key.”
“You do? That’s great! That way, we can’t be charged with breaking and entering when Drew finds out all of your things are gone. The three of us are going to go to the house and park the car down the street. If Drew is home, we wait until he leaves to go in. Cam will sit in the car and watch to see if he comes back, and if he does, he will call me on my cell and warn us. Kallie and I will go in and get her things.”
Kallie and Cam both nodded in agreement with the plan. Kallie hoped that they could get this all over with, and fast. She grabbed her key ring from the kitchen counter, and the three of them left the house and got into Cam’s white Honda Civic. The windows were completely blacked out with tint and made it impossible to see who was inside the car. Kallie gave them directions to Drew’s house, which was about 20 minutes away from theirs.
“Damn Kallie, I can’t believe you walked all the way to our house from Drew’s. It’s kind of far, even when it’s not pouring rain outside.” Cam sounded impressed.
“I did what I had to do,” was all Kallie said, and Cam left it at that.
Pulling onto Drew’s road, Kallie could see that Drew’s car wasn’t in the driveway. He always left the car in the driveway during the day if he was home. Drew drove a beautiful, expensive Audi and wanted all of his neighbors to know it.
“He’s not home; I can see the driveway from here. It’s the big white house up there on the left.”
Cam slowed down the car and pulled to the side of the road. Jack and Kallie got out and hurried up the road. Kallie fumbled with the key ring as they walked up the front steps, her hands shaking. Jack watched the road to make sure no one was coming up the road, or watching them enter the house. Kallie got the front door unlocked and hurried to the alarm keypad, knowing she only had a few seconds to turn the alarm off. She typed in the 4 numbers and breathed a sigh of relief as the alarm was disabled. She gave Jack a small timid smile and led him upstairs to her room.
Opening the bedroom door, she saw that everything was exactly where she left it. She looked at Jack, who was looking around the room.
“Did you guys have separate bedrooms?”
Kallie nodded quickly. “Yes. That was one of the few things that I asked for that Drew was okay with, as long as I stayed in ‘character’ around other people.”
Jack changed the subject. “Okay, let’s do this quickly. Do you have a suitcase?”
“No, I don’t. I’ll get some garbage bags from the kitchen.”
While Kallie went downstairs, Jack removed all of the clothes from the closet and took them of the hangers, folding them together hastily. Kallie came back a few moments later, and they began a quiet routine of removing clothes from drawers and hangers and gently placing them into the large garbage bags. Suddenly, Jack’s cell phone rang.
“Jackson! Drew’s back! He’s pulling in now!”
“Shit! Okay, keep watch Cam.” Jack shoved his phone in his pocket. “Drew’s back.”
“What? Oh my gosh, what are we going to do? We won’t get out of here in time!”
“Pull these bags into the closet so he won’t see them if he opens the bedroom door. Leave the room exactly how it was. We’ll hide in the closet.” Jack and Kallie quickly pulled the bags into the closet and straightened the room. They scrambled into the closet and got as far out of sight as possible. Jack put his arms around Kallie and pulled her close. He did not want Drew to know that Kallie was with Jack and Cam, and give him an idea of where to come looking for her. Kallie heard the front door close and held her breath.
“Kallista? Are you here?” Drew called through the house.
Kallie’s breathing got quicker. She could feel her chest tightening and her head felt fuzzy.
“Jack,” she whispered, “I’m having an anxiety attack.”
Jack looked down at Kallie. She was pale as a ghost and couldn’t catch her breath. He took her right hand and placed it on his chest. He knew his heart was racing but he tried his best to calm himself down, for her sake.
“Listen to me Kallie. Relax. Take deep breaths. Concentrate on slowing your heart rate down to match mine. Come on Kal.” Jack put his hand on top of hers and squeezed. He watched the fear in her eyes but could hear her breathing start to slow. Within minutes, her anxiety reduced to basically nothing.
Kallie and Jack heard footsteps on the stairs right outside the bedroom door. The door creaked open and Kallie squeezed her eyes shut, pressing her face into Jack’s chest.
“Kallista? I’m not kidding; if you are here, you better come out before I find you first, and then you will have hell to pay.” Jack clenched his jaw and held Kallie closer. He knew that if Drew opened the closet door, the only one who would be in danger of getting hurt would be Drew himself.
They could hear Drew’s footsteps stop outside the closet door. It felt like an eternity before they finally heard him leave the room and close the door behind him. Kallie and Jack waited silently for a few seconds, trying to hear if Drew left the house. After a few minutes, Jack’s cell phone vibrated in his jeans pocket.
“Jack, Drew just left. It’s all clear now.”
“Got it. Thanks bro.” Jack ended the call. “He’s gone Kal; let’s get out of here.”
Kallie stepped back from Jack but stood staring at him in awe. “How did you do that Jack?”
“Do what? I didn’t do anything.”
“I’ve been having anxiety attacks for years and have never been able to control them. How did you?”
“To be honest- I have no idea. All I could think of was trying to calm you down so you wouldn’t pass out right here on the closet floor.”
Kallie smiled shyly. “I don’t know how to thank you, Jack. That was amazing.”
“You’re welcome Kallie. No worries. Let’s go!”
Kallie and Jack drug two full garbage bags of clothes down the stairs. Right before they reached the bottom landing, the alarm went off.
“Shit! Drew must have reset in when he left! Hurry up Kal!”
They rushed out of the front door; Cam had pulled his car up into the driveway to make a quicker getaway. Jack threw the bags into the car’s trunk and climbed into the passage seat. Kallie had already scrambled into the back. Cam threw the car into reverse and sped back towards home.
“That was so exhilarating!” Cam exclaimed, “Let’s do it again some time!”
“NO!” Both Kallie and Jack screamed at the same time, and all three of them dissolved into a nervous, but relieved, laughter.
Back at home, Cam helped Kallie fold and put away all of her clothes in her new room. Jack was downstairs in his office, doing some paperwork from home so he wouldn’t have to go down to the precinct today. Cam and Kallie laughed and joked about silly little things; it made Kallie happy to have a relationship with a man that had no pretenses whatsoever. It made her comfortable and relaxed. After finding a place for the small amount of clothes that Kallie had that she’d actually wanted to keep, they were spent. Cam sprawled out on Kallie’s bed and Kallie laid next to him, comfortably resting her head on his stomach.
“I can’t believe Drew came home while you and Jack were inside! I was freaking out in the car; I can’t imagine how you guys felt inside the house!”
“I know it! I still can’t believe that Jack was able to completely stop my panic attack! It would have been all my fault if Drew had found us.”
“How old are you?” Cam asked suddenly.
“What? That was random…”
“I know; I just realized I didn’t know and I’m curious.”
“I’m 22. Drew hated when I told people that; he said it made me sound so young.”
“Oh! I’m 22! How old do you usually tell people you are?”
“Drew liked when I told people I was 28. He is 35, so I guess he thought the 7 year age gap was acceptable but the 13 year gap wasn’t.” Kallie rolled her eyes.
“That’s probably the stupidest logic I’ve ever heard,” Cam said, and Kallie laughed loudly.
“How old is Jack?” Kallie asked curiously.
“Jack’s 30; our mom had Jack with her first husband, but they got divorced quickly and Mom married my dad when Jack was just 4. My dad, well, our dad, raised Jack from that time on and he considers him to be his one and only father. Jack says the only good thing that he got from his dad was this house and all of the money he left him when he died about 4 years ago.”
Jack lightly knocked on the partially closed bedroom door and walked in.
“Oh, I’m sorry; I’m interrupting,” Jack said, and backed up to leave the room.
“You’re not interrupting anything; come sit!” Kallie sat up and patted the bed next to her. “We were just talking about everything and nothing.”
Jack laughed and sat on the corner of the bed. “Hey Cam, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to get away to Mom and Dad’s for a little while? You know, like, just forget about shit for a little bit. I have about 3 weeks of saved up vacation time, and, since Dad’s your boss, he probably wouldn’t mind you taking some time off to go see him.”
“Hell yeah! That sounds amazing! Time at home with Mom’s home cooking, and being at the beach for a while? I’m in!”
Jack looked at Kallie, who was sitting on the bed with her legs pulled up to her chest and her chin resting on her knees. At times like this, he thought she looked so young and fragile, and so tragically beautiful. He nudged her leg with his elbow.
“How about it? You in?”
“Me? You want me to go meet your parents? You guys barely even know me.”
“So we’ll get to know you. You seem to be pretty perfect so far.” Cam looped his arm around Kallie’s shoulder and ruffled her hair. Jack felt momentarily jealous that he didn’t have that easy relationship with Kallie, but he pushed the feeling aside.
“I would love to go. Thank you.”
“I was hoping you would say that, because I got you a gift!” Jack jumped off the bed and walked out the bedroom door. “Ready?” He called from the hallway.
“Um, I guess,” Kallie called back unsurely.
Jack walked back in carrying a beautiful, large Louis Vuitton travel duffle bag, and Kallie’s jaw dropped.
“No way Jackson. I can’t accept that. Are you insane?”
“Not insane, I just know quality. Cam and I have an aunt with a designer collection that makes some celebrities jealous. Are you saying you don’t want it? I guess I’ll try to get Mom’s Neiman’s shopper to return it…”
Kallie’s eyes were lit up like a New York City skyline but she remained silent.
“Last chance…”Jack dangled the bag from his fingertips.
“I love it,” Kallie whispered, a small smile playing at the corner of her lips.
“Good! I think it’s just a little more stylish than those garbage bags that brought your clothes here.”
Kallie picked up a pillow off the bed and threw it full force at Jack, who ducked right before it hit him.
“Pack up kids! We’re off to the Hamptons in the morning!”