Later that week, Kallie was lying on her bed in Sophie and Linc’s house, using her Mac and browsing the internet. Sophie and Linc were ecstatic to see her back; Sophie hugged her so hard that it was hard for her to breathe. Jack officially told them about the new house and that he had a buyer for the house in the city, and Sophie burst into tears at the thought of her boys living close to her again. Linc instantly went into business mode, contacting a company to begin the packing and moving process of Jack and Cam’s things.
Jack had started doing light work in his new precinct and loved it already. His officers respected him and were eager to learn from his experience in the big city. Cam was assisting his dad at a restaurant expansion in California, and had been gone all week.
Kallie had been spending most of her days at home with Sophie and Blair, helping Sophie plan her latest event and having some quality girl time that she wasn’t used to. Kallie had gotten extremely close to Blair; she learned that Blair had been a print model when she was younger (something Kallie had always wanted to do) and that her husband, Zach, was a high profile lawyer in Manhattan who was closely related to one of the members of a famous boy band.
Jack knocked on her door and walked in. “Hey beautiful; what are you doing?”
Kallie smiled. “Looking for a job in this area.”
“You don’t have to work, Kal. I work. You have a home, money, and you’re taken care of,” Jack argued, frowning.
“I have to work, Jackson. What am I supposed to do all day if I don’t?”
“Look pretty,” Jack answered simply.
Despite herself, Kallie smiled. “Stop it Jackson.”
“Can we make a compromise?” he asked.
“That depends on what the compromise is,” she answered.
“You should get a job, but only something that you really, really want to do. Don’t just pick something to pick something; make it something that will really make you happy. Salary is not a contributing factor so it can be anything you really see yourself doing.”
Kallie contemplated this for a moment. “Fair enough,” she said finally, which made Jack grin from ear to ear. She closed the computer and sat up, crossing her elegant legs and tossing her hair over her shoulder.
“What have you and my mom and aunt been doing all week?” Jack asked curiously.
“We’ve been planning the huge family reunion party that your mom is hosting next weekend. She has so much that she’s planning; I’m just helping her out with ‘organizational support’,” Kallie said, giggling.
“Ah, sounds exciting. Have you talked to Cam?” Jack asked.
“I texted him this morning. He said that they’ve been really busy, but are still catching their flight back home tomorrow morning. I can’t wait; I miss Cam.”
Jack pouted dramatically. “You don’t miss me?”
Kallie made a face at him. She got up on her knees on the bed and threw her arms around his neck. “I miss you every second you’re not with me,” she said, and planted a tiny kiss on the tip of his nose.
Jack tilted her head up and kissed her. Kallie pressed her body into his, deepening the kiss. She shifted her weight, pulling him down to the bed. Jack put his hand behind her head and continued to kiss her. Kallie caressed his face, loving the feel of his 5 o’clock shadow underneath her fingers. Jack rested his weight on his elbow. He lifted the hem of her t-shirt to put his hand on the bare skin of her stomach, making Kallie moan involuntarily. She kissed Jack harder and hooked her ankle around his leg. Jack pulled back, breaking their contact.
“Kallie; don’t,” he said.
She looked into Jack’s eyes, confused. “What?” she asked innocently.
“Just- don’t. I’m sorry,” he kissed her lightly and untangled her legs from his. Jack got up off the bed to leave the room.
“Jackson-“ Kallie called after him. He glanced back at her with an unreadable expression and left the room.
Kallie was confused and frustrated. This was the third time that he’d done that to her. What was his issue with her? She wished she knew what he was thinking. It was like he could read the word VIRGIN written across her forehead. Cam had said…
Cameron. She grabbed her phone off of the bed and chose his number from her contact list. It rang 3 times and Cam picked up.
“Hey hey, pretty girl. Whats going on?”
“Are you busy?” Kallie asked bluntly.
“Not right now; is everything okay Kallie?”
“Did you tell Jack?”
“Tell Jack what?”
“Cameron. You know what I’m talking about.”
Cam was silent. “Kal-“
“I knew it! Damn it Cam, Jack is treating me like a leper now! As soon as I touch him, he freaks out. You were right- he’s not cool with it.”
“Relax Kallie. I’m sorry; I did tell him. It was when your memory was gone, and Jack was in a bad place- he thought you wanted nothing to do with him, and I just wanted to prove to him that that was the farthest thing from the truth. I know I betrayed your trust, Kallie, but I thought it was for the best. It’s all my fault. I don’t think its you, I just think the pressure messes with his head.”
Kallie sighed. “It’s not your fault Cam. This is my issue; that wasn’t fair of me to blame you. Sorry Cam.”
“It’s okay sweetheart. No big deal. I’ll be home tomorrow and I can sit down with my knuckle head brother. Don’t worry about anything, Kal; it’s all good.”
Kallie smiled, wishing Cam was here to just give her a huge bear hug and calm her nerves. “Thanks Cam- can’t wait to see you tomorrow. I miss you. Fly safe.”
“Miss you too, girl. See you tomorrow,” Cam finished, hanging up the phone.
Once Cam got home, things seemed to go back to normal. Cam was always the perfect tension tamer. He could always make sure that the people around him weren’t stressing about anything; people always forgot their problems for a little while when they were around someone like Cameron.
On Thursday, Kallie, Sophie, and Blair went to meet Carolyn to pick out outfits for the party on Saturday. Cam and Jack decided to go to the new house and start to do some organizing, since Miss Millie and Peter had left for LA on Tuesday. A painting crew was already at the house, painting each room in turn with colors that Jack, Kallie, and Cam had all agreed on. Jack and Cam spent the day in the kitchen, unpacking their things since the kitchen was the only room that they didn’t want to change at all.
“How’s everything going with Kallie?” Cam asked Jack, breaking their busy silence.
“Everything is great,” Jack said, “she’s amazing. Like, perfect, actually. If I could build the perfect girl, it would be Kallie.”
Cam turned and looked at his brother. “Liar.”
“You heard me. You’re lying,” Cam accused.
“Why would you say that? I love that girl; I could spend every waking moment with her and it still wouldn’t feel like enough time.”
“I talked to Kallie, Jackson. I told her that you know she’s a virgin.”
“You told her what? Why?”
“Because she called me when I was in Cali, like, freaking out! She was going insane wondering why every time things seemed to be getting hot between you two, you would break it up and leave. She figured out that you must have found out, and the only way you would have found out is if I told you.”
“She’s mad?” Jack asked.
“She’s not mad; it all makes a little more sense to her now that she knows that you know that she’s a virgin.”
“Can I tell you a secret, Cam?”
“Of course, bro- I’m always here for you.”
“I love Kallie, and it makes me happy to know that she has never loved someone so much before that she is willing to give them something so special, like she is for me.”
“But?” Cam interjected.
“But…I don’t want to hurt her. And I know I’m going to.”
“That’s your issue? Come on, Jackson; she knows what to expect- she’s a virgin, not a child or stupid. You love her; you will make sure that everything is perfect for her.”
“Do you think I should talk to her about this?” Jack asked his brother.
“Yeah, actually; I think you should. And no- I’m not doing it for you. I’m tired of knowing all the crazy details of your guys’ relationship; it’s starting to creep me out. I feel like I’m in a threesome with my brother and that is totally not cool,” Cam said, making a disgusted face.
Jack laughed and punched his brother in the thigh. “Thanks Cameron; as usual, you know all the right things to say.”
“Maybe I should become a therapist instead of an aspiring restaurateur,” Cam pondered dramatically.
“Well don’t get carried away now,” Jack said, and they both laughed. Jack’s phone pinged, letting him know a text message was coming through.
From: Kallie I <3 u. Can’t wait for u 2 c my outfit. ;*
Attached to the message was a media file; Jack clicked it to open it. Kallie had taken a picture from the dressing room in Neiman’s; the shot was from the bottom of a short, lacy hemline and all the way down her perfect, summer-tanned legs and to a pair of sexy black stilettos. Cam watched his brother visibly swallow and his face change.
“Is everything okay, bro?” Cam asked.
“Umm, yeah. It’s fine. It’s just Kallie.” Jack said, wiping his face.
“Is she alright? Your demeanor just completely changed.”
“She, uh, sent me a picture.”
“Ohhh, it’s like that. I got it. I would ask to see it, but I’ve just got enough in my imagination to keep me occupied for the rest of the afternoon,” Cam said, smirking.
Jack looked at him seriously. “Shut the hell up, Cameron. Don’t do that.”
“Relax bro. I’m just messing with you. I just like to see you get worked up over her; I’ve never seen you get flustered by a girl before and it’s about damn time.”
Jack answered the text with a simple word- Damn. <3 He clicked out of the message, but not before he saved the photo to his photo album.
“She’s a great girl, Cam,” Jack said, for some reason feeling like he had to defend something.
“I know. You don’t have to explain anything to me, Jack. Are we done here for the day? I’m getting hungry, and I really need a shower,” Cam said, wiping the sweat from his face and neck.
“Yeah, that’s fine. Kallie will be back soon anyway so I want to get back.”
Kallie, Jack, and Cam were staying with Sophie and Linc while the small renovations were going on in the new house, something which no one minded. They all liked being around each other, but still knew how to give each other space when needed. On Friday night, the company arrived to erect the tent in the backyard and to set up tables and decorations. Sophie and Blair flitted around the tent giving orders, a whirlwind of Chanel Number 5 and the essence of ‘class’. Kallie secretly hoped that she was as classy and sophisticated as those women when she was their age. Kallie sat on the patio half wall with Cameron and his laptop, putting together a long playlist on Sophie’s iPod that could play on the speaker system all day, before the DJ arrived at night. Linc and Jack were in the front, speaking to the valet company and putting together a plan for all the cars.
“Hey Cam, do a lot of people come to this party?” Kallie asked curiously.
“Let me just put it like this. People have had weddings with way less people than is going to be here tomorrow. Just wait and see- there is a reason Mom will lay on the beach for a week after this to mentally recover.”
Kallie laughed, going back to her song selection job. A pair of strong arms wrapped her up from behind, and Kallie instantly knew who it was. She leaned into Jack’s embrace, and he tilted her back and kissed her cheek.
“Hi beautiful. What are you guys up to?” Jack asked.
“We’re just finishing a playlist for your mom; she wanted a good selection of songs to play during the daytime,” Kallie answered.
Jack took the iPod and flicked his finger on the screen, scanning their selections. “Good choices; Mom will be happy.”
Kallie grinned, full of satisfaction. Kallie, Jack, and Cam spent the rest of the afternoon sending out party e-reminders for Sophie and having fun with each other. Cam teased Kallie mercilessly, and she loved every second of it. It was the ‘best friend’ relationship she had been looking for all her life and had never had.
On Saturday morning, Kallie was up early with Sophie so they could get their hair done. Sophie insisted that every occasion require a full hair and make up team; she also insisted that since Kallie was part of her family now, she should be entitled too. At first she felt weird doing this, but since then, Kallie realized that this is just something that Sophie liked to do. Sophie was wearing a blue, strapless maxi dress with large white flowers printed on it, so she wanted something simple in her hair. Henry styled Sophie’s short, dark bob using a white headband, teasing her hair at the crown and giving her some volume. Blair had gotten a hot pink and nude colored fitted halter dress, which flattered her perfectly. She was already complaining about the summer heat, so Henry pulled her long, jet black hair into a sleek pony tail off of her neck. Kallie sat on the bed while Henry worked, just listening to Blair and Sophie chat and watching Henry’s skillful hands. When it was her turn, Kallie told Henry that instead of her signature, beachy waves, she wanted her hair pin straight. Henry pulled a straightener through her long hair, pulling the front of it off of her face and making a small poof on the top of her head, using bobby pins. Kallie put on her new outfit, and she, Blair, and Sophie went outside with the guests. Kallie looked around for Jack or Cam but didn’t see either of them. Blair came up from behind her and looped her arm through Kallie’s.
“Jack and Cam are helping Linc with something, but we can go sit at our table and I’ll introduce you to my husband, Zach,” Blair said.
Blair’s husband was extremely handsome. He had longish, blonde hair that just touched his collar, and deep blue eyes. He had a pearly, white smile and thick arms. When he stood up to greet Kallie and Blair, Kallie was surprised to see that he towered over them; he was at least 6 foot 3 inches tall. Zach had a deep voice and a strong handshake, and Kallie liked him immediately. Zach and Blair seemed to be so in love, and it was refreshing to be around them. Blair left Zach and Kallie to go mingle with the guests, and Kallie listened intently to Zach’s stories about his job and how he and Blair had first met.
After Cam and Jack had finished helping Linc with something he needed in the garage, they went inside to change into their party clothes, both of them wearing varying versions of a casual button down shirt and khaki shorts. They each grabbed a drink from the kitchen; Jack grabbed one for Kallie as well. Making their way outside, Jack scanned the yard in search of his girlfriend.
“Your girl is sitting with Zach, and she’s looking sexy as hell,” Blair said, coming up behind Jack.
Jack turned and hugged his aunt, smiling. “I’d be lying if I said she ever looked anything but sexy, Aunt Blair. And might I add, you look stunning,” Jack said, spinning her in a circle and then kissing her hand.
Sophie appeared next to them, and Jack and Cam hugged and kissed their mother and complimented her on her beautiful dress and the elaborate party. Jack spotted Zach in the crowd, next to a woman who resembled Kallie, but could in no way be his girlfriend. The woman was beyond sexy and downright sultry and sophisticated. She had long, pin straight blonde hair and even longer, toned, tan legs. She was wearing a black, satin one shouldered tank top and short, fitted lace shorts. On her feet were black, velvet stilettos, with at least a 5 inch heel. Zach looked up at him and smiled, murmuring something to the woman. She slowly turned in her seat toward him, crossing her long legs and smiling. Kallie. Jack froze where he was and his lips parted slightly. Kallie rose from her seat and closed the gap between them in a few steps. Because of her high shoes, she was only about two or three inches shorter than Jack and it intimidated him, but in a good way,
“Kallie,” Jack said, running his hand down her arm and entwining his fingers into hers.
“Jack,” she replied softly, looking down shyly but then looking back up at him through her long, dark lashes. Her eyes were rimmed in gold and charcoal colored makeup, just enough so it wasn’t an overkill but that her eyes were the first thing you noticed. While, after you got past her legs and ass, of course.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this before, but you are perfection. Sheer perfection. I love you,” Jack said.
“You have, but thank you. I love you too, Jack.”
“I can’t even get over this right now, “ Jack said, twirling Kallie in a circle so he could get a 360 degree view, “I couldn’t figure out who was sitting next to Zach, but I never thought it would be you. You looked beautiful at the Barefoot Gala, but this is so different. Classy and sophisticated, but so, so sexy.”
Jack wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her. Kallie always felt like the world was spinning when Jack kissed her, but she never wanted it to stop.
“Come on,” he said, encircling her waist with his arm, “Let me introduce you to the family.”
Jack led her around the tent, introducing her to people from both his mother and father’s side of the family. Both Sophie and Linc had five brothers and sisters each, so there were so many people milling around, but everyone was having a grand time. Jack stopped in a group of people, including Cam, that looked to be about her age; Jack and Cam’s cousins, she suspected.
Jack went around the group, telling Kallie everyone’s names. She was right; they were cousins. They were all between the ages of 20 and 30, and some of them even had children of their own, who were playing on the Astroturf grass together.
“And this is my cousin, Daniel,” Jack finished. Daniel had a small boy in a chair next to him, and when he turned around to face Kallie, her jaw dropped.
“Danny?” she exclaimed.
“Oh my gosh, Kallista?” Danny said, “It’s so great to see you!” Danny scooped Kallie into a big hug and Kallie threw her arms around his neck, hugging back.
“Apparently you two know each other?” Jack asked, confused.
“Danny and I actually dated for about a year; we went to high school together,” Kallie explained.This news didn’t sit well with Jack, but he tried to hide it. He grabbed Kallie’s hand and squeezed. She smiled brilliantly at him; Jack knew this was his girl and his only, but he couldn’t help but be jealous that someone had her first.
“What a small world; I can’t believe you and Jack are dating! Didn’t you leave Kingston with someone named, like, Drew or something?” Danny asked.
Kallie shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah, I did, but that didn’t really work out. I left him,” she said, ending the conversation about Drew.
“Oh well that’s okay; I’m sure my cousin here is a much better catch anyway,” Danny said. He scooped the little boy off the chair and propped him on his hip. “This is my son, Declan. He’s three and a half.”
“Oh my gosh! He is so cute!” Kallie exclaimed. Declan regarded her inquisitively, and then put his arms out for her.
“Can I?” she asked Danny.
“Oh, of course,” he said, handing Declan over to Kallie. Kallie took the child and held him tightly to her body, facing her. Declan stared into Kallie’s eyes as she talked to him, mystified by her. He reached up with a small hand and put it gently to her face. Jack watched the exchange between them. If it was possible, Jack fell more in love with her while observing her innate maternal instincts. She would be a great mother; she and Declan had an instant connection that was impossible not to see. Declan fit easily on her hip, and he was as comfortable as could be. When Kallie gave him back to Danny, Declan cried for her, and they all laughed at his strong attraction to her.
“Just another man falling over Kallie,” Cam said dramatically, and Kallie made a face at him, embarrassed.
Lunch was being served in a few minutes, and Sophie had come on to the microphone and asked everyone to be seated. Jack, Kallie, and Cam went to sit at their table with Blair and Zach; Sophie and Linc would be joining them as well. Jack slipped his hand under the table and rested it possessively on Kallie’s thigh. Kallie shifted toward him and gave him a small, sexy smile, making Jack’s breath catch in his throat. She leaned against him and ran her fingernails ever so lightly up and down his forearm, making Jack smile back, slyly. Cam looked over and saw the exchange, clearing his throat noisily and making Jack jump, which only made Cam laugh loudly.
Lunch was served, a huge spread of lobster pizza, steamed shellfish, Wagyu beef hamburgers, and 4 different types of gourmet pasta salads. Dinner would be served later,and the lunch menu looked like fast food compared to what would be served then. Kallie was having an amazing time; everyone was so nice and she could talk and laugh with ease. Kallie danced with Cam, Jack, and Blair to the iPod’s playlist. Declan kept interrupting, getting away from Danny’s grasp and finding Kallie so she would pick him up and dance with him. After a few songs, Kallie and Jack went to the bar to get drinks, and then went to sit down to relax.
“Hey Jack, where is Declan’s mother?” Kallie asked curiously.
“His mother left Danny right after Dec was born. She left him a note saying she was sorry, but she was too young to handle motherhood and she didn’t want to raise Declan. I felt so bad for Danny; he was so broken up about it. Luckily Declan was so young that he doesn’t remember her at all,” Jack explained.
“Poor Danny,” Kallie said, “He was always such a nice guy. I left Kingston to be with Drew; I’m sad that Danny and I never kept in touch.”
Jack patted Kallie’s bare leg. “It’s not your fault, Kal. Danny’s been doing a great job.”
“I know, I just feel badly for him.”
Later on that day, after the sun had gone down but the air was still hot, Kallie and Jack were sitting at the table, talking to Blair and Zach. Cam came up behind them, wearing a pair of swim trunks.
“Ready, Jack?” Cam asked excitedly.
Jack nodded, smiling. He grabbed Kallie’s hand and pulled her upright. “Ready for what, Jack?” she asked.
“After we’ve spent the whole day mingling with the parentals, all of the cousins spend the night in the pool and hot tub. You game?” Jack asked.
“Of course! Let me go inside to change,” Kallie answered.
She ran inside, changing into her Chanel bikini that she knew Jack loved. She threw on a pair of white cotton shorts over her bikini bottoms and a pair of white flip flops. She pulled her straightened hair into a big messy bun on the top of her head, and headed back out to the pool. Jack was already back outside in his swimsuit, sitting on a lounge chair by the pool with a beer in his hand. Kallie sat down in his lap, draping her arms around his neck and boldly kissing him. She could feel him smile against her mouth before he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her back.
“You’re too much, Kal,” Jack said, breaking them up before it got to be too R-rated for the younger cousins. Kallie giggled and winked at Jack. She would never be able to get enough of him.
Kallie had so much fun with the family. It was easy to make friends with them and to hold conversations; she was jealous that she hadn’t grown up like this as Jack and Cam had. While Kallie was perched on Jack’s lap and having a conversation with Julie and Ryan, Jack’s cousin and her boyfriend, Cam ran up to her, picked her up off of Jack’s lap and threw her in the pool. The cool water felt delicious against her humid skin. Swimming over to the side, she offered her hand up to Cam to help her out, and being the gentleman that he was, Cam offered his hand to her. Kallie tugged hard and pulled Cam into the pool unexpectedly, making everyone laugh. Cam and Kallie went off to the hot tub, and Danny came over to Jack and sat next to him.
“She’s a great girl, isn’t she Jackson?” Danny asked.
“She’s an amazing girl, Dan. I’m sorry for you that you couldn’t have had her for longer, because I want her forever and it still doesn’t seem like enough time.”
Danny smiled sadly. “Don’t you think it’s weird how much Declan likes her? Dec never likes anyone new,” Danny said.
“I don’t know; Kallie is such a calm and easy person that it’s impossible not to like her. Dec probably likes the relaxed aura surrounding her,” Jack explained. Danny stayed quiet.
“Something to say, Dan?” Jack asked.
“You’re not stupid, Jack, you can see it. Kallie is Declan’s mother.”
Time momentarily stood still for Jack. His mind flashed back to Declan’s reaction to Kallie when he first saw her, and how he’d been attached to her all night. The time frame fit perfectly; Kallie had dated Danny a little over four years ago. Then he thought of Cam and Kallie’s conversation about how she’s never had sex before. She wouldn’t have lied to them about something so huge, would she?
“That’s not true, Danny. Don’t you dare do that. You know that’s not true. Besides everything else I know, I know for a fact that Kallie would never abandon her child like Declan’s mother did. You should be ashamed of yourself for even saying that shit,” Jack said, storming away from Danny. He walked over to the hot tub where Cam and Kallie were talking and laughing with a few of their cousins.
“Cam, can I talk to you for a second?” Jack asked angrily. Kallie looked at Jack’s face and knew that something was wrong, but wasn’t going to push the situation; it probably didn’t involve her.
Jack pulled Cam inside the house and to Jack’s room, closing the door behind them.
“What the hell, Jackson? I’m soaking wet and dripping all over the floor!” Cam cried.
“Do you want to know what Danny just told me? He told me that Kallie is Declan’s mother. The kid looks like her, the timing is perfect from when she dated Danny until now, and don’t you think Dec’s attraction to her is weird?”
Cam shook his head violently. “You’re crazy, Jack. First of all, you know that Kallie is a virgin, so it’s not even possible. She wouldn’t lie to me, or more importantly, to you. Secondly, you know for a fact that if Kallie had a child, she would never leave it. Kallie is the most caring person in the world; she puts everyone before herself. She wouldn’t abandon a newborn baby. Why the hell would he even say that?”
“That’s what I said. But why would he say that, if it wasn’t true? That’s a weird thing to say, Cam, and weirder still because Declan’s mother is mysteriously gone, and Danny just happened to have been with Kallie at the time Dec would have been conceived. I have to ask Kallie.”
Cam grabbed Jack’s arm. “Bro, you can’t do that. Kallie will be so upset if you accuse her of this, especially if you don’t know the whole truth. Come on, Jack, you know Kallie. Would she abandon her son?”
Jack looked at his brother. He was crying, not trying to hide it at all. “I love Kallie. I love Kallie more than I’ve ever loved any woman in my whole life. But I don’t know Kallie. I’ve known her for all of 3 months. She won’t tell us anything about her life. How could I know her?”
Cam set his mouth in a hard line. “Have you asked Kallie about her life? The answer is no, you haven’t. You think she’s too fragile to handle anything bad when in fact, she’s handled a truckload of bad shit and she’s still the sweetest, most trusting person you’ll ever meet. She’s the strongest person I know.”
Jack sat on the bed, tears streaming down his cheeks and pain etched in every part of his face. There was a soft knock on the door and Kallie walked in. She was wearing her bikini and her shorts. Her stomach was perfectly flat and toned. Would that be possible if she’d had a baby 4 years ago?
“Can I come in? I don’t- Jack? Whats wrong, baby?” Kallie asked with concern. She started walking over to him and he looked up at her, the look on his face stopping her cold.
“What’s going on? What happened?” No one spoke. “Damn it, if someone doesn’t talk to me now, I’m going to freak out. What the hell is wrong?” Kallie yelled.
“Kallie, are-“ Jack began.
“Jackson, I swear to God,” Cam said angrily, “don’t do it. Don’t. Go. There.”
Jack ignored his brother. “Kallie, are you Declan’s mother?”
Kallie drew a sharp breath in. Her throat went dry and all of the color drained from her face. “Who said that?” she asked slowly.
“It doesn’t matter. Please, just tell me,” Jack said, tears still in his eyes but determined to get answers. Cam was leaning against the wall, arms folded across his chest and face unreadable.
“Jackson, I’ve told Cameron, and now I’ll officially tell you. I’ve never had sex with anyone. The only other men I’ve ever dated were Danny and Drew, and Danny was a high school fling and Drew made me sick, beating the shit out of me every second he could. I’ve never wanted to have sex with anyone, until I fell in love with you. I didn’t lie to you. I would never lie to you, ” Kallie said, wiping the tears that were now streaming down her face.“No one has ever made me feel as perfect as you have, until now. You’ve just made me feel like a piece of shit whore.”
Cam went to take a step towards her, but she halted him with a look and a swift shake of her head. She looked back at Jack, who was still staring at her but hadn’t moved a muscle.
“Why does Declan look like you?” Jack asked finally.
“Jackson, shut the fuck up. Kallie, he’s being crazy right now. Don’t listen to him,” Cam ordered.
Kallie watched Jack, not moving or speaking. “Declan has blonde hair and blue eyes, like 40 percent of the population in our country. That’s no reason to accuse me of being a liar and a slut.”
“Maybe you should go,” Jack said suddenly.
Kallie’s mouth dropped open, and Cam finally intervened. “Jackson, no. Too far. Kallie, let’s go. Jackson needs some time with his thoughts and to get a grip on reality,” Cam said through clenched teeth. Cam grabbed Kallie’s arm, and she pulled it away.
“No, Cam. Thank you for trying to mediate,” Kallie said through tears, “but I see Jack’s intentions here. I’ll go. But Jackson, just know this one thing- no one in this world will ever love you as much as I did before I walked into this room tonight. Or even as much as I love you right this very second that you’re ripping my heart out in shreds.”
Kallie turned on her heels and hurried to her room. She began sobbing uncontrollably, packing a small amount of clothes into a bag. She grabbed her purse and took out her cell phone, throwing it on the bed. There would be no finding her this time. Last time, she left on her own accord, but this time, Jack asked her to go. Like the good girl that she was, she always did as she was told.
Jackson sat on the bed, head in his hands and unmoving. Cameron stood next to him, still in disbelief over what just happened.
“Jack, how could you do this? You love her! Why would you throw all that away over some stupid thing someone said?”
“How do we know that she’s not Dec’s mother, Cam?”
“How do you know she is? Damn it, Jackson, you saw the look on her face. That was pure hurt and betrayal, not lying. You just broke your soul mate’s heart and let her walk out of here. For the first time in our lives, I think you’re the stupidest human being to ever walk this planet.”
“Not helping, Cameron,” Jack said stiffly, wiping his face.
“Not helping what? This situation cannot possibly get any worse. And you did it.” Cam stormed out of the room, and then returned a few moments later.
“Kallie’s gone; you got what you wanted,” Cam said, and reached into his pocket and pulled out her cell phone. “She left this on the bed. I think it means ‘Don’t find me this time’. Good going, Jackson,” Cam said, and slammed the bedroom door. Jack put his face into his pillow and let his tears pour out from his heart and soul.
After what seemed like an eternity, Jack composed himself and went outside to the party. He wanted to talk to his mom about the situation. He wanted to tell her that he’d just done the stupidest thing he’d ever done, and asked the love of his life to walk away. He wanted to get her opinion on whether or not she thought Kallie could be Declan’s mother.
His mom was sitting at a table near the DJ booth. When she saw him approach, she saw the look on his face and immediately rose and went to him, pulling him to the side for privacy.
“What’s wrong, Jackson? Have you been crying?” she asked.
“Mom, Kallie’s gone. I asked her to leave.”
“What? Jackson, why?”
“Danny told me in private that she wasn’t the girl I thought she was. That she was Declan’s mother, and she left them to go with Drew.”
Sophie’s mouth gaped open. Her eyes welled with tears and she shook her head. “Jack, no. You just made the biggest mistake of your life,” Sophie said sadly, “Kallie is not Dec’s mother; I’ve met his mother. She came to one of my parties with Danny when she was pregnant. It wasn’t Kallie; It was a tall, heavy-set girl with dark hair. I’m sure you’ve met her before; maybe you just don’t remember who she is.”
Jack clenched his teeth angrily. He turned to find Danny, and at the same moment, Cameron was at his side, shoving Danny hard at Jack.
“Tell him,” Cam said with force.
Danny looked embarrassed. “Jackson, I’m sorry. I lied when I said that about Kallie. I was jealous because you had the girl I always wanted. I just wanted to make you guys fight, but not like this.”
Before he could think, Jackson cocked his fist back and punched his cousin in the jaw. Now, everyone around was watching and listening. Cameron put his hand on Jack’s chest and held him back.
“Not worth it, bro. We need to find Kallie.”
But they didn’t know where to start looking. They obviously couldn’t track her cell phone for a lead, so they called every cab company in the area. On the last one, they got information from a driver about the girl he dropped off at the airport, who matched Kallie’s description. Jack felt his heart drop into his stomach. As much as he said he didn’t know Kallie, he did know her. And he knew she would make it impossible to find her if she didn’t want to be found. He called the 3 airports in the area; not one of them had a record of a credit card being used under the name Kallista Romero. Jack then tried to track a boarding pass with the same name; no luck. Cam called bus companies that left from the airport to find out if she had taken a bus to somewhere, but to no avail. They were stuck. Jack had all resources at his fingertips because of his badge and he still couldn’t locate her.
“I’m so stupid,” Jack said to his brother, interrupting their frenzied search.
“You don’t have to tell me twice, Jackson.”
“I just can’t believe I did that; what got into me?”
“Jack, I think that sometimes you search for something in Kallie to make her imperfect, because you have her up on such a ridiculously high pedestal. Kallie is perfect to you, in every single way. But she’s still human. She still has her own flaws and feelings. You can’t just play with people’s hearts like that, especially someone that you love so much.”
Jack sighed. “I know. I screwed this up so bad. I don’t even know where to start looking for her. She knows where I am; hopefully she will come looking for me someday.”
Cam touched his brother’s shoulder sadly. “I hope so too; I really do. But you have to remember- YOU are the one who asked her to go. She thinks you don’t want her here. What would make her come back?”
Kallie was already to the airport. She was reading the schedule and trying to find the next flight out that would take her the farthest from New York. There was a flight leaving in half an hour for San Fransisco; perfect. She always wanted to start over; now was the perfect chance. She bought a boarding pass at the ticket desk and sat anxiously in the waiting area. For the first time in her life, she was happy that she had an ID with Drew’s last name on it so she would be less easy to track down. Kallie had decided that she would go to California, get a job somewhere, and start over. Maybe she would even make up a fake name and life history for herself, one that seemed normal for a change. When they called the plane to board, Kallie was one of the first ones on. She was nervous to go alone; she’d never gone somewhere alone in her entire life. Taking a deep breath, she leaned her head back on her seat and made herself comfortable for the long haul.
When she arrived in California, Kallie hailed a cab and told the driver to bring her to the nearest hotel that wasn’t very expensive. He dropped her off at a nearby Super 8 that was surprisingly clean and well maintained. Kallie asked the desk clerk about the weekly rate, and when he told her, she paid 3 weeks in advance. Kallie didn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon, and she didn’t want to have to worry about rent for a while. She had cleared her bank account from a small bank kiosk at the airport; it was easier to keep track of the money she had left if it was right in front of her. Kallie took a quick shower and got into the bed, exhausted from the day. In the morning, she would go on foot in search of a job in walking distance to the hotel. The only real marketable skill she really possessed was waitressing, so she would have to find something that would do. Kallie fell asleep quickly, and dreamt of nothing at all.
The bright sun through the curtains woke her up in the morning. Kallie felt surprisingly rested, like the day before was all a dream. She dressed in a pair of dark jeans and a light cotton t-shirt, grabbed her purse, and began walking down the long strip of road that her hotel was on. She’d stopped in four restaurants, none of whom were hiring, before entering an elegant bistro named Shantelle. After talking to the manager, Kallie had successfully secured a hostessing position and her first week’s schedule, including a three hour shift that night. The manager thought she would be a perfect fit, and that her bright personality and gorgeous face would really attract diners.
Kallie then went in search of a consignment shop where she could find inexpensive clothes for her new job. She would be required to wear dark pants and a light colored shirt; other than that, she could choose what she was wearing. Using a small amount of her money, Kallie purchased 4 new tops and 4 new bottoms. Then, she walked to a drugstore where she got 2 magazines, a book, shampoo, conditioner, and a bunch of hygiene products. At this point, Kallie was famished, so she stopped at a small burger joint on the corner of the road, slowly eating a cheeseburger and small fry before heading back to her hotel room.
As hard as she tried not to, she thought of Jack every step of the way. She wondered what he was doing at this very moment, and if he was any less angry with her. Kallie wholeheartedly wished that they could have talked more, but he seemed to just want her gone. Danny had been such a strong presence in her life in high school and such a fun person to be around. What changed? Kallie couldn’t believe that he had lied to Jack, and about something so earth shattering. He had completely ruined Kallie’s life, and she wasn’t sure that he even realized the outcome of his tall tale. Good old Cam. He had tried so hard to fix the situation, but it had just kept escalating more and more out of his control. Cam wanted nothing more than for Kallie and Jack to be together, and she knew he would do anything in his power to make it happen. She just wished it had been enough.
Back at the hotel, Kallie showered, dressed, and applied moose to her wavy hair. She carefully applied a small amount of makeup and put on a pair of comfortable black kitten heels that she’d found at the consignment shop. Walking the 4 blocks to the restaurant, she tried with every step and breath to forget the past 22 years of her life.
Kallie instantly loved the restaurant and the people who worked there. She had decided to keep her name the same since it would be easier that way. Everyone treated her with kindness and it was like she had been there for years. She made friends with a waitress named Alexa and a bus boy named Frankie, who were brother and sister and had been working there for over 3 years. Alexa took Kallie on break with her, and they sat outside on the back patio to chat. Kallie didn’t reveal any of her life stories, and Alexa didn’t press the issue. She instead told Kallie a little bit about the restaurant and some fun things to do in the area. Kallie found out that the owner of the restaurant owned a bunch of bistros around the country, all of which had a different female, French-sounding name. Alexa giggled when she talked of the owner’s son who came with him to visit sometimes; according to her, he was “so dreamy” and couldn’t wait for him to come back so Kallie could meet him and they could share some gossip.
When her shift was over, Kallie said goodbye to Frankie and Alexa and walked back to the hotel. Her feet were throbbing from standing the whole time, but she had some more money in her pocket and some new friends. She could definitely see herself working there for a while and establishing a clientele that knew her, like Alexa had. She laid her in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking about Jack, until she finally couldn’t keep her eyes open and then drifted into a restless sleep.