On a beautiful hot day, Linc had taken the family out on their yacht to cruise the Atlantic Ocean. Kallie wore a brand new, ocean blue Chanel bikini that Blair had picked out. She wasn’t too sure of it when Blair pulled it off the rack, but after putting it on, she decided that it was her favorite purchase. It had delicate strings wrapping around her back and around her neck. The cups of the bikini top were decorated with Swarvoski crystals that glittered in the sun. The bottoms were the same ocean blue as the top, and they had a large satin bow decorated with crystals on her right hip. While wearing it, she felt sexy and classy at the same time. Kallie would have felt that she looked sexy in it even if Jack hadn’t told her she did; which he had. The Williams’ clan and Kallie spent the entire day on the boat. There were large, plush white pool chairs on the deck of the boat which Kallie, Sophie, and Blair occupied for the whole day. The men were content with a beer in hand, sports conversation, and the occasional teasing of the women. Cameron came over to Kallie’s chair while she was dozing in the sun, scooted her over and cuddled in next to her. Before Cam, the only other man that had ever been this close to her was Drew, and she had hated every second of it. Kallie had honestly thought that she would be affected for life and come to loathe this close proximity and touch, but she’d discovered that she never minded when Jack or Cam touched her; that she actually enjoyed it. It was comforting to know that someone was always there for her and always had her best interest at heart.
Cam nudged her out of her private thoughts. “Having fun Kallie?” he asked.
“Cameron, I’ve never been so happy in my entire life. You and Jack are the two most perfect people on the planet, and your family is simply amazing. I am the luckiest girl in the world, because you two found me and saved me.”
Cam squeezed her tightly and planted a kiss on her cheek. He could feel goosebumps on her arms from the chill that was creeping up as the day began to end. Cam grabbed his towel off of the rack and draped it over her like a blanket. Kallie snuggled her face in it and drifted off into a light sleep.
Cam walked over to where Jack, his mother, and his aunt were chatting at a small table. They looked up when he approached and stopped talking suddenly.
“Alrighty then, I didn’t know I was such a buzzkill. Awkward…”
Blair, who never minced words, turned to Jack. “Would you like to tell your brother, your best friend, what you were just talking about?”
“Jack? What’s up bro?”
Jack cleared his throat and looked at his brother. “I’m in love with Kallie. And I think you are too. I’ve always promised myself that I would never let a girl come between the two of us, and I want to stick to that. I just want you to admit it to me so I can move on.”
A small smile crooked the corner of Cam’s mouth. “I’m not stupid, Jackson. I know you’re in love with her. It’s plastered across your stupid ass grin every time Kallie is around. I’m not in love with her. I love her; I think she is the sweetest and most beautiful girl that I have ever met in my life. She has a way with people that you just can’t help but be intoxicated by her. But I’m not in love with her. Besides you, Kallie is probably the best friend I’ve ever had. I can tell her anything and I know she won’t judge me and that she will always have the best advice. Do I think she’s hot and could I totally picture her naked? Abso-freaking-lutely. But any dude with eyes will say the same exact thing. I want Kallie in my life for a long, long time, but an exclusive relationship is not what I’m looking for with her. I don’t want that pressure between us; I love how we are.”
Cam could see Jackson let out a long sigh of relief. “Are you sure, Cam? Because if you are, I think I’m going to tell her how I feel. I just want to know if she feels the same way.”
“I’m positive, Jack. The two of you are my best friends, and nothing would make me happier than to see the two greatest people in the world complimenting each other.” Cam leaned over to his brother and clapped him on the shoulder. He pulled Jack in for a hug and whispered in his ear, “And Jack- she loves you too.”
That night, Jack had a party to go to back in the city for one of his friends from his job. He wanted to go mainly so he could announce his long thought over decision to the men he had been working with for so long. After a long talk with his dad, Jackson had decided that he was going to resign from the police force in the Bronx and take a job that he had been offered in East Hampton, as their Captain. Jack didn’t want to spend another second under a scumbag like Drew Roberts. He also thought that since Kallie loved it here so much, she wouldn’t mind leaving the city and coming to live here, but he still had to talk to her about it. He was going to ask her to go to the party with him, as his date. Jack was excited and nervous; excited because of what Cam had secretly told him, and nervous because he wanted it to be true so badly.
Wandering around the big house, Jack found Kallie laying on her stomach in her bed, playing on her new computer and singing along to whatever new Taylor Swift song she had blaring through her Beats headphones. She looked up when he entered the room, pulling off her headphones and flashing him a huge smile.
“Hey,” Kallie said sweetly.
“Hi. Having fun with your new toys?” Jack asked, smiling back.
“Totally. I’ve been adding so much music that it will take days for me to listen to it all. Thanks again Jack. You don’t even know how much I appreciate everything you do.”
“It’s my pleasure. I was actually wondering if, maybe, you wanted to go to a party in the city with me tonight. Like, as my date.”
Kallie sat up in her bed and looked at him in disbelief. “Really? Me?”
“Of course, you,” Jack said, chuckling, “Who else would I bring?”
“Will Drew be there?” Kallie asked cautiously.
“No way Kal; I wouldn’t do that to you.”
Kallie jumped off the bed in excitement. “What should I wear?!”
“Whatever you want. Not that bikini you wore on the boat. We don’t want a sex riot to break out in the Bronx tonight.”
She giggled and hurried off to the closet to pick out the perfect outfit. “Jack, send your mom in! I need a professional!”
Laughing out loud, Jack left her room in search of his mother and to go get ready himself.
An hour later, Kallie was showered, shaved, coiffed, and dressed. Her hair was pulled back into a sleek honey colored ponytail. A French braid ran down her hair line and wrapped intricately into her ponytail. Kallie had chosen a short, sleek black dress with long sleeves and cutouts on both sides of her torso, highlighting her perfectly flat abdomen and golden tan. She pushed a pair of multi colored sequin stilettos on to her feet, and tucked her new iPhone into a small hot pink clutch. Sophie stepped back to get a good look at Kallie and to admire their work, thoroughly pleased with the outcome.
When she entered the kitchen where Jack and Cam were waiting, both boys stopped in the middle of the conversation to stare. Jack thought that he would honestly never get over Kallie’s beauty. She was supermodel gorgeous, and had no idea. Jack had cleaned up nicely, wearing a new pair of grey dress pants, a crisp white button down shirt, and grey dress shoes, but he knew that no matter what he was wearing, he would never measure up to Kallie. Cameron jumped off his stool, ran over to Kallie and scooped her up like a baby.
“Bye guys,” Cam joked, pretending to leave, “I’m stealing this girl before someone else does.”
Kallie giggled and held her arms comfortably around his neck. Cam gently lowered her to the ground and set her carefully on her feet. Kallie wrapped her arms around Cam’s waist and hugged tightly. Jack grabbed car keys off the kitchen counter and joined Cam and Kallie in the doorway. With those heels on, Kallie was only a few inches shorter than Jack. When she tilted her head up to look at him, Jack realized that this was the closest he had ever been to her while looking at those unique grey eyes. He stared at her, not breaking their gaze, genuinely feeling like he would be able to see the depths of his own soul if he stared long enough.
“What?” She asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I could honestly be unaffected by you just being near me if I tried really hard,” Jackson admitted openly, “But once I look into your eyes, I’m completely incapacitated.”
Kallie bit her lip and looked down shyly. Jack tilted her chin up and continued to stare in her eyes. Kallie blinked rapidly, shaking her head and laughing quietly.
“You could literally make me forget I’m in a crowded room,” Kallie said, grabbing Jack’s hand lightly and brushing her lips on his knuckles.
“Well you have fun tonight, kids- don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Cam interrupted casually, and they all laughed.
As Jack and Kallie prepared to leave, Cam pulled Jack aside slyly. “I really have to tell you something later. Kallie told me not to, but I think you need to know.”
Jack furrowed his brow in confusion. “Tell me.”
“Not now. It’s fine; I’ll tell you later. Have fun.”
Jack tried to push those ominous words from his mind, focusing only on having a good night with Kallie. He opened the front door for her, and parked at the bottom of the front steps was a bright yellow McLaren. Kallie’s eyes widened.
“Whose car is that?” She asked.
“It’s my dad’s. We’re borrowing it tonight.” Jack answered.
“I’m going to get to ride in that?!”
“Only if you hurry up so we actually have somewhere to go.”
Kallie laughed and linked her arm through Jack’s. He escorted her down the stairs and pulled up the Lamborghini style car door for her, helping her in. Kallie buckled her seatbelt and spun to face forward, excited for the ride. Jack got in, closed the door behind him, and started up the expensive engine with a quiet purr. Kallie looked over at Jack and a huge, goofy grin spread across her face. He grinned back and pulled the car down the long driveway and down the road. He entered the highway smoothly, cranking up the music and leaning back casually as Kallie did the same. They would enter the city in about an hour, but they were in no rush.
As expected, all eyes were on them when they entered the party. Most of these guys knew “Kallista” from the precinct, but they didn’t know Kallie. They actually didn’t even really recognize her; some thought she looked familiar, but they couldn’t put their finger on why. Kallie knew how men looked at her and she’d never relished the attention. She tried to stay as close as possible to Jack all night, attempting to portray the image that she wasn’t available and wasn’t interested in any drunk lushes hanging on her and vying for her approval. Jack didn’t mind though; he kept Kallie tight at his side all night and catered to her every need. Kallie was actually having a great time, spending alone time with Jack but also getting to know him better as she watched him in his social scene.
At around midnight, Jack suggested that they head back home. Kallie was pleasantly exhausted from the day and didn’t object. She excused herself to use the restroom before their long drive home. In the quiet of the cozy bathroom, she pulled her cell phone out of her sleeve where she had stashed it after leaving her clutch in the car. Cam had sent her a text message an hour ago, with a simple little “thumbs up” symbol that made Kallie smile and her heart warm at her easy affection for Cam. Slipping her phone back into her sleeve, she washed her hands and opened the bathroom door. A large, burly arm shoved her back inside and pinned her to the wall while another hand tightly covered her mouth.
Drew! Kallie panicked, thrashing her head from side to side and punching at his chest with her small fists. As always, she was just too small to overtake him.
“Kallista. How interesting to see you here. When I heard that Jackson Williams would be here, I had an uncanny hunch that you might be too. I’ve missed you; how lovely it is to see you.” Drew ran his fingers down her arm, down her bare side, and then rested on her thigh. “This dress looks beautiful on you; not something I would have picked but it will definitely do. I’m glad I found you; it’s time you come back to where you belong and truly become mine.”
Kallie’s eyes widened in terror, but she couldn’t make a peep because of Drew’s large, clammy hand over her mouth. She clawed her fingernails on his hands, arms, and face, which only made him more angry.
“Now, you know I won’t be able to bring you out of here while you are being this disobedient. I brought some help with me…” Drew took an old rag out of his jacket pocket and pressed it to Kallie’s nose and mouth; the pungent aroma of a chemical overtook her senses. Kallie struggled against him as her head began to get foggy. She became weaker and weaker, eventually having to fold herself into blackness.
Waiting in the kitchen, Jack checked his Rolex. He realized that Kallie had been gone for a little too long and went in search for her. Hurrying down the hallway, he could see that the bathroom door was still closed. He knocked on the door, though he had a really bad feeling and knew deep down that he wouldn’t get an answer. Jack tried to door handle and found it unlocked. The large window was broken outward and there was no sign of Kallie anywhere.
“Shit!” Jack cursed, and dug out his cell phone, already rushing for his car. After 2 rings, Cameron picked up.
“Jack? Is everything okay?”
“Not at all. Kallie’s gone. She was in the bathroom for too long and when I went to find her, the window was busted out and the bathroom was empty. Drew’s got her.”
“Drew? How do you know that?”
“Where the hell else would Kallie go here in the city, and who else do you think is a threat to her? It’s Drew; I know it.” Jack had reached the MCLaren, jumping inside and throwing the car into gear. He pulled out on to the highway and hit a high rate of speed, not even knowing where to go from here.
“Cameron, I don’t know what to do right now. I don’t want to leave the city, but I’m not even sure where to go.”
“Go to Drew’s house. He wouldn’t bring her anywhere else; he wants to take her ‘home’.”
“Good idea, Cam. I’ll call you back when I get there.”
Driving furiously down the highway, Jack only had one thought in his mind, and it was to save Kallie. He’d vowed to her that no one would ever hurt her again, and he’d let that asshole get his hands on her again. Knowing how badly that Drew had hurt her in the past, Jack was scared to death to see what he would do to her this time. Jack was so mad at himself for bringing her back into the city tonight; he should have kept her as far away from this life as possible. He smoothly pulled the car off of an exit and made his way to Drew’s residential street. This close to houses, there wasn’t many street lights or car headlights, so Jack had to slow down slightly. Watching the road carefully, he could see something on the side of the road ahead of him and slowed down to avoid it. As he got closer, his heart dropped as he recognized the golden pool of hair. Kallie. Jack screeched the car to a halt and scrambled out, leaving his headlights on so he could see. There wasn’t a soul around; that motherfucking prick had left her in the middle of the road to die. Kallie was unmoving; her dress was torn wide open on one side and her shoes were missing. Her hair was streaked with mud. Jack carefully pushed her hair out of her face and drew a sharp intake of breath at what he saw. Kallie’s face was streaked with blood and her right eye was swollen shut. She had blood pouring out of her ear and mouth and was unresponsive. Jack quickly checked her pulse and was greatly relieved to find one, albeit extremely weak. He picked her up ever so gently and carried her to the car, releasing the passenger seat and laying it flat. He laid her gently in the seat and then quickly got into his, throwing the car into gear and rushing back toward the highway. Jack knew he had to get her to the hospital, but wanted her at one that he knew would take the best care of her. He pulled his cell phone out of the cup holder and quickly phoned Cam, who picked up after only one ring.
“Did you find her?” Cam said. Jack could hear his parents’ worried voices in the background.
“Yeah. On the side of the road. The prick threw her out of a moving car. She’s completely unconscious and in bad shape. Meet me at North Shore; I’m on my way now.” Jack hung the phone up before Cam could even respond; he knew that he’d heard and would probably be at the hospital even before he arrived with Kallie.
Jack sped down the highway, making record time. He pulled the car to the emergency room entrance, where he saw Linc standing impatiently. Leaving the keys in the ignition, Jack lifted Kallie out of the car and carried her inside, while Linc took the car and parked it. Cam and Sophie were inside the waiting room, and rushed over to Jack as soon as he entered.
“Oh my God,” Cam whispered, looking at Kallie’s face and then at Jack’s. Jack was pale white and looked like he’d been crying during the drive here. Kallie was still unresponsive and bleeding.
“I know I wasn’t supposed to move her,” Jack said frantically, “But I couldn’t wait for an ambulance. I knew I would drive faster.”
Cam was staring at his brother, who looked so sad and lost. Jack was always the one he could count on in any kind of situation, but this was way over his head and far too emotional for him. He was like a robot, programmed and stiff. Cam squeezed his brother’s shoulder and hurried him to the nurse’s desk. The nurse looked up when they approached, her mouth gaping open at the severity of Kallie’s injuries.
“I need help,” Jack squeaked out, and Cam interjected to explain.
“My brother found her like this on the side of the road. He thinks she was thrown out of a car. We know her; I can help you with some of the information you need.”
The nurse quickly called a doctor on the intercom system, and then rushed Jack and Kallie to a room in the back. Cam and Sophie stayed in the waiting room; Cam attempting to fill out paperwork for Kallie to the best of his knowledge. Jack laid Kallie carefully on a bed, and a swarm of medical personnel surrounded her, pushing him out of the way. He watched nervously from a corner of the room while they cut her clothes off, stabilized her neck, and shouted out medical terms that he wished he understood better. The staff quickly hooked machines to her body and inserted tubes down her throat. Jack was so overwhelmed with this whole situation and felt so helpless. A nurse came up to him and ushered him back into the waiting room, sympathy etched across her face.
“We will do everything we can for her; just be patient,” she told Jack, touching his arm comfortingly.
Jack sat next to his brother, folding his hands in his lap and resting his head on them. Cam reached over and wrapped his arm around his brother to show his unwavering support. Sophie and Linc sat next to each other on an old loveseat, Sophie’s small hand sitting in Linc’s large one. After what felt like hours- but was really only a little over an hour and a half- a doctor in scrubs came out and approached Jack.
“Mr. Williams, I’m Doctor Castin. Miss Romero is stable. We had to put her in a medically induced coma due to the extent of her injuries. She has 3 fractured ribs, a broken hand, a fractured cheekbone, and swelling on her brain.”
Jack swallowed back a huge lump in his throat. “Is she going to be okay?”
“Only time will tell,” the doctor replied. “You can go in and see her now if you wish.” Dr. Castin nodded curtly and left them. Sophie looked at her oldest son, who was barely holding it together. He was much bigger than her, but he was still her son. She enveloped Jack in her arms and he broke down, sobbing uncontrollably into his mother’s shoulder.
“This is my fault,” Jack sobbed, “I took her into the city. I should have stayed home. I shouldn’t have let her go to the bathroom by herself. I should have stayed with her; I should have protected her.”
Seeing Jack cry for the first time since he was a little boy made Sophie’s eyes well up too. “This is not your fault, Jackson. If you hadn’t gone after her and found her, she would have surely been dead by now. You saved her. She needs you to be strong right now; she needs your support.”
Jack stood up straight, wiping his eyes with his shirt sleeve. “Can you guys come with me?”
Jack led them down the hall and into the room where he had brought her. The doctors had dressed her in a hospital gown and cleaned her up well; the blood was gone from her hair, face and neck and her hair was carefully pushed back out of her face. She looked like a beautiful, broken doll. Jack pulled up a chair and sat directly next to her bed, not taking his eyes off of her. Her cheekbone was swollen and bruised and her hand and wrist were encased in a hard white cast. She had tubes coming out of her mouth and an IV in her arm. Machines next to the bed were monitoring her heart rate and brain activity. Jack grabbed her right hand, the one that wasn’t casted, and held tightly. He stared intently at her face and searched for any glimmer of that vibrant personality that was Kallie. Jack saw nothing, but he wouldn’t give up hope.
Jack stayed at the hospital every day with Kallie. He wanted to be there as soon as she woke up. Cameron came to visit every day for hours at a time, but always returned home at night because only one person was allowed to sleep in the room, and he knew Jack wouldn’t want to part with her. After two days, Dr. Castin came in to evaluate her, determining that her vitals had increased positively and that he was going to bring her out of the coma, which greatly lifted Jack and Cam’s somber mood. The tubes were removed from Kallie’s body and she began to breathe steadily on her own. However, the nurses were quick to remind Jack that just because she was breathing on her own, did not mean that they could give him an exact time or date that she would wake up.
On the third day, Sophie, Linc, Cam, and Jack were sitting around the room, talking quietly. Cam was trying to convince Jack to go home to shower and get some rest, but Jack wanted to see her when she woke. As he did every day, Jack continued watching Kallie, willing her to wake up. Suddenly, he saw her face scrunch up and her body shift. Jack sat up, holding his breath in anticipation.
“Kallie?” Jack called cautiously.
Her eyes fluttered open and she looked around the room, confused. “Jack?”
He grabbed her hand. “Hey, I’m here. “
Kallie looked directly into his eyes, but he could tell that something was amiss. A single tear slipped down her cheek. “I’m sorry,” she said, and her eyes closed and her heart machines flat lined.
As soon as Kallie’s machines had made that awful, shrill sound, nurses flooded the room and forced Jack and his family to go to the waiting room again. He couldn’t believe that the elation he felt when Kallie opened her eyes was ripped away so quickly. About an hour later, Dr. Castin came out of the room, and both Jack and Cam jumped out of their chairs to meet him.
“Relax boys, she’s stable now. The pain is just still too much for her body to handle. I’ve put her on a large dose of morphine, but she’s unconscious again. We are doing as much as we can, and I’m sorry that we can’t really tell you much more yet.”
“Can I go back there again?” Jack asked.
“Mr. Williams, there is nothing you can do right now. Why don’t you go home and get some rest?”
Jack clenched his jaw tightly. “I don’t want to leave.”
“It is totally up to you. I just think that it’s not good for you to be here all day stressing out about her. I think Kallie would want you to get some rest, a good meal, and a warm shower.”
Sophie touched his arm gently. “Jackson, I think the doctor has a good point. Please.”
“I can’t, Mom. I just can’t leave.”
“Cam can stay. He can text you with updates every 15 minutes. You don’t even have to stay home; just get a hot shower and change your clothes. Maybe you can even get some comfortable clothes for Kallie to change into when she wakes up.”
Jack turned to his brother. “Every 10 minutes?” he asked.
Cam smiled, the first time either of them had smiled in days. “Every 10 minutes,” he agreed.
“Okay,” Jack conceded, and went home with Linc and Sophie. He showered quickly and changed into clean, comfortable clothes. He went into Kallie’s closet, choosing clean undergarments, a pair of black sweatpants, and a thin lime green Victoria Secret zip up hoodie that reminded him of her. He also grabbed one of his old hoodies so she could wear it at the hospital if she wanted something cozy. Jack threw the clothes in a pink and white flowered Vera Bradley duffle bag that Kallie had gotten when she went shopping with his mom and aunt. So much had happened since then; was it only 2 weeks ago that they had left the city?
Jack used his own car to get back to the hospital; it was wishful thinking that he would be able to take Kallie home soon. He’d been using his iPad at the hospital to find a house here in the Hamptons that him, Cam, and Kallie could move to after he started his new job; Jack had officially resigned from his old job and had put his first day at his new job on hold until everything with Kallie was resolved. He’d found a beautiful, brand new house about 15 minutes from his parents; it was closer to the end of Long Island but still on the beach because he knew Kallie would like it. Jack sincerely hoped that Kallie would still want to stay with him and continue to develop a relationship with him, even after what he’d let Drew do to her.
Cam had texted him 6 times while he was home, and all the texts said the same thing- No change. He was sad that Kallie hadn’t come out of this yet, but he really wanted to be there the second she woke up. That traumatic scene of her waking up and looking for him, apologizing for who knows what, and then going into cardiac arrest kept playing over and over in his head, and he hated it. Jack placed Kallie’s bag in the trunk of his Audi SUV and, getting in, he started the quiet engine and took off toward the hospital. He cranked the music open and rolled the windows down, trying to clear his head a bit. When Jack arrived back at the hospital, Cam was sitting next to Kallie’s bed with his feet propped up casually on the end. He had Jack’s iPad in his lap, and he was reading the latest celebrity gossip scandal to Kallie, laughing out loud like she was laughing along with him. Jack smiled. His brother truly was amazing, and both him and Kallie were lucky to have him in their lives.
The next day, Cam and Jack were sitting at the small table in Kallie’s room, playing their third game of Gin Rummy that day. Jack was grateful to have his brother around to keep him company, and even more grateful that Linc had given Cam as much time off from the restaurant as he needed. The brothers had talked about Jack’s plan to relocate to the Hamptons, and Cam was thrilled at the idea and said that he wouldn’t mind driving into the city to his restaurant if it meant he could live back here again. Jack showed Cam the house he was looking at, which he loved, and even contacted a real estate agent about putting his house in the city on the market.
“Um, hi.” Jack and Cam both whirled around at the sound of her voice. Kallie was awake! They rushed to her bedside, careful not to overwhelm her in fear that they might bring on another episode like yesterday.
“Kallie! How are you feeling? Do you need anything?” Jack asked softly.
Kallie looked so confused and disoriented. “I don’t-Cam?”
“Hey, Kal. You had us nervous there for a while. How are you feeling?”
“I have a headache and I’m hungry, I think.” Cam and Jack laughed.
“I’ll get the nurse to get you something,” Jack said, touching her face gently.
“I’m-I’m sorry,” she said to Jack, “Who are you?”