Kallie felt like she was in a whirlwind at the Williams’ home, and she loved every second of it. She, Jack, and Cam spent most days laying on the beach and working on their summer tans, and most nights sitting on the patio with Sophie and Linc and anyone who decided to visit-which happened more often than not- sipping cold mixed drinks, talking, and laughing. Cam took Kallie to watch his old high school basketball team practice; it was exhilarating for Kallie to see Cam in his natural element and how his face lit up when he was helping the team. Sophie, Blair, and Kallie went on a marathon shopping spree with Carolyn. Kallie had refused to take Jackson’s credit card with her this time, but when they arrived at the store, Carolyn told the women that Jackson had called her to let her know that they should have fun, and anything they wanted would be billed to him. As usual, Kallie didn’t want him to do that, and as usual, Sophie and Blair told her not to worry about it and just to let Jackson do what he wanted, that he was used to getting his way and he would make sure that he did. Kallie ended up doubling the wardrobe that she already had, adding to it mostly summer dresses and shoes that she actually felt comfortable wearing. She was honestly glad that Jack had given her the opportunity to get rid of all the ridiculous clothes that Drew had forced her to wear.
Kallie knew that she was no good at flirting, but she had been trying really hard with Jack. She’d become one of those girls that she hated, giggly and touchy-feely. She knew that she was in love with Jack, and sometimes she thought that he felt the same, and then other times he was clearly just a friend. She had basically thrown herself at his feet, and he still seemed just friendly. Jack was just so frustratingly confusing; she just wanted to know how he felt, either way. One Friday night, Kallie, Jack, and Cam went out for the night to a bar owned by a good friend of Cam’s. It was only 20 minutes from the house, and Cam wanted to drive his new Mercedes that he had just traded his Honda in for. It was two door, sleek black, with cream colored leather interior, and was perfect for Cam. Kallie climbed into the back seat of the car and let Jack sit in the front, since the back seat of Cam’s fast car was way too tiny for Jack. Kallie had been unsure of what to wear, but Cam had told her that it was a laid back, “dive bar” atmosphere, so she had chosen a black corset top, tight, ripped jeans, and a simple pair of black pumps. When they entered the restaurant, Kallie could see that Cam had been right about the ambiance of the restaurant. Low wooden tables covered the spacious floor, and the bar in the center of the room had a rustic feel; the bar top and stools were made of light colored wood, and worn out saddles and old records lined the bar walls. The three of them took a seat at the bar; Cam shook the bartender’s hand and Kallie could tell that they knew each other. The bartender hustled into a back room and returned moments later, with a handsome man in his early thirties wearing crisp, dark jeans and a pressed button down shirt.
“Cameron! How are you, my dude? It’s been way too long!” the man said, grabbing Cam’s hand and clapping him warmly on the back.
“I’m great, Bobby; just visiting my parents for a few weeks,” Cam said, and then gestured to Kallie and Jack. “This is my brother, Jackson Williams, and our good friend Kallie Romero. This is Bobby Purka, the owner.”
Bobby shook Jack’s hand and then Kallie’s, not letting go of hers. “Nice to meet you; the pleasure is all mine. You are a beautiful girl, Miss Kallie; care to dance with a very rich man?”
Kallie tilted her head up and smiled. “Thank you. I’d love to,” she answered.
Bobby tapped the bar to get his bartender’s attention. “Maxwell! These 3 drink on the house all night; take care of them!” he ordered, and Maxwell saluted his boss in assent. Bobby pulled Kallie by the hand to the dance floor, spun her around quickly and pulled her close to him, making Kallie laugh loudly.
Jack watched her, tapping his foot anxiously on the bottom rung of the barstool. Cam saw the look on his brother’s face, and a smile played at the corner of his mouth.
“You alright, bro?” Cam asked Jack casually.
“What? Me? I’m fine, why?” Jack answered defensively.
“No reason, you just look like you are going to shatter your beer bottle any second,” Cam said, pointing to Jack’s white knuckled grip on his drink.
Jack loosened his grip. “No, I’m fine. It just bothers me sometimes how trusting she is of people. You’d think that with all she’s gone through, she wouldn’t be so easy with strangers.”
“Bobby is a good dude; I’m not worried about him. Besides, she seems to be having a lot of fun with him.”
“I noticed,” Jack grumbled, flexing his hand on his bottle again.
“Jackson. Why don’t you just admit that you’re in love with her?” Cam said suddenly.
Jack looked back at his brother, and Cam could see the muscles in his jaw tighten. “Because there’s nothing to admit. I’m not in love with her; she’s just a good friend and that’s fine with me.”
Cam snorted. “Are you telling me that, or yourself?”
“Shut up, Cameron; you’re totally off base with this one.”
“Right, bro; that’s why you didn’t answer my question.”
Jack called the bartender over to ask for another drink, effectively putting the conversation to an end. Bobby led Kallie back to her seat, twirling her again and pulling the bar stool out for her. Kallie plopped down in the chair, still out of breath from dancing to the fast music.
“Kallie here is a great dancer,” Bobby said, squeezing her thigh gently. “I could barely keep up.”
“You’re the great dancer; it was me that couldn’t keep up! I was barely on my own 2 feet the whole time!” Kallie exclaimed and ran her fingers through her hair to brush it out of her face.
Bobby stayed with them for a while, keeping the conversation and the drinks flowing. Even though Cam really wanted his brother and Kallie to take a shot at a relationship, he couldn’t deny the clear chemistry between her and Bobby. They seemed to be old friends, comfortable with each other and able to hold conversation easily. Cam could see the tension in Jack’s face as they watched the exchange between Kallie and Bobby, but Cam would honestly say that it amused him. He knew that Jack was in love with Kallie, and if we wanted her to himself so badly, then he should come out and tell her.
After a few hours, and multiple big yawns from Kallie, Cam suggested that they head back home. Kallie rose from her chair, and Bobby grabbed her arm gently.
“Hey, can I take you out to dinner tomorrow night?” he asked Kallie.
Kallie paused, and her eyes flickered quickly to Jack and then back to Bobby, but not before Cam saw.
“Jackson.” Cam said bluntly. Jack’s eyes remained on a spot on the floor. Cam made a face at Kallie and shrugged his shoulders in frustration.
“I’d love to,” Kallie answered after a few moments. She jotted her cell phone number down on Bobby’s hand, and they walked to the parking lot and Cam’s car.
They were silent on the way home, the only noise coming from Kallie singing sweetly along with the songs on the radio. She had a beautiful, mellow singing voice, and listening to her brought a small smile to Jack’s lips, even though he was seething inside every time he pictured Bobby’s hands on her. When they arrived home, Kallie kissed each of them on the cheek and went to her room for the night. Jack walked down the hall to turn in for the night, but Cam followed him into the room, closing the door behind him.
“Jackson, if you don’t want to be with her, that’s absolutely fine, but it doesn’t give you the right to act like a baby when someone else jumps at the chance. You snooze, you lose, bro; and you’ve been snoozing for too long.”
“I’m fine, Cam, and I’m not acting like a baby. What Kallie does with her own time is her decision. She’s a grown woman, and I’m not Drew. I won’t control her life,” Jack retorted, slamming his closet door a little too hard.
“Is that what this is about?” Cam asked incredulously. “Jack, telling her that you love her is not controlling her life. It’s starting a new life, together, the both of you. Drew beat the shit out of her; loving her is not even remotely the same.”
Jack looked up into his brother’s eyes, and then quickly looked away. “I’m not in love with her,” he said, staring out the window to the ocean.
“You’re a damn liar,” Cam retorted, opening the bedroom door, “but that’s you that has to live with that, not me. I know I wouldn’t be able to watch the woman I love leave with another man.”
And he didn’t watch, not where Kallie and Cam could see him anyway. Kallie had called Bobby the next morning, and they decided that Bobby would pick her up at 6 and take her to another one of his restaurants, this time a fancier one out towards the end of Long Island. Jack watched out an upstairs window as Kallie got into Bobby’s expensive Rolls Royce. She looked beautiful, as she always did, in a short, fitted white dress and high red Christian Loubatin’s that his mother had let her borrow. Her hair was straightened and pulled back from her face on both sides, exposing the sexy, elegant curve of her neck and making Jack’s stomach clench in jealousy.
“You do realize that if you had asked her not to go, she would have stayed in a heartbeat,” Sophie said, coming up behind Jack and startling him from his inner thoughts.
“It’s okay Mom, she can see whomever she wants. We aren’t together,” Jack answered firmly.
“Why not?” she asked curiously.
“Kallie’s way out of my league; I don’t deserve her,” Jack said, and stopped in his tracks at what he’d just said.
“Cameron said that you aren’t in love with her, but I don’t believe that. Judging from the nature of that answer you just gave me, I think I’m right.”
Jack paused, swallowing hard. He looked down at the floor, running his hand over his hair in frustration. “I think I’m in love with her, Mom.”
Sophie smiled. “I know you are. So does Cameron; he’s just being a pushy little brother. Jackson Williams, you are the sweetest, smartest, most handsome man I’ve ever known. You are out of this world and way out of league for any young lady I’ve ever met, until I met Kallie. You two are perfect for each other; you deserve each other. No one else in this world deserves either of you except for the other one; it’s fate that you’re together.”
Jack hugged his mom tightly. “I think your opinion is biased, mom, but thank you. That means a lot. I need Kallie. I want to be with her. She makes me better.”
“Don’t go get her,” Sophie said.
“What? I shouldn’t?”
“This date won’t change how she feels about you. Well actually, it will. It will make her realize that there is only one person for her, and it’s you.”
“Do you think that’s true?”
“I know it is, Jackson. The last time I saw the dreamy look in Kallie’s eyes when she looks at you, is when I looked in the mirror knowing that I was in love with your dad. Don’t let her get away.”
Sophie kissed her son on the cheek and squeezed him tightly. “Anytime, sweetheart.”
Jack tried to wait up for Kallie, but he dozed off in an armchair right before she got home, around 11pm. Kallie took of her heels at the door so they didn’t click loudly on the hardwood floor, and tiptoed down to Cam’s room, hoping he was still awake. His bedroom door was ajar, and he was sitting at his desk working diligently.
“Can I come in?” she asked quietly.
“Kallie, hey. Of course you can,” Cam answered, swiveling his desk chair around.
Kallie pulled a throw blanket from the bed and wrapped it around herself, curling up on the end of the bed. “I had a great time.”
“You did? That’s great, Kal. Bobby’s a great guy; I’m sure you had fun,” Cam said, sitting down next to her on the bed.
“I did. Bobby’s sweet, funny, and spontaneous. He knows how to have a great time, and he is such a gentleman.”
“But?” Cam asked carefully.
“But…he’s not Jack. I love Jack, Cameron, I want to be with Jack. No one is going to change that. In fact, tonight made me realize that even more. There are lots of great guys out there, but they’re not Jack. I only want him.”
Cam smiled, knowing this all along. “Did he kiss you?”
“He tried to, but I couldn’t. I felt guilty. In my head, I’m with Jack. I know that sounds weird, but my heart already belongs to someone else. I can’t help it.”
Cam laughed. “I understand, Kallie. Do you want me to tell him how you feel?”“No, thank you. I’m going to do it. Soon,” she added quickly, and they both dissolved in laughter.