Katie’s world came crashing down in an instant.
Her husband, daughter, and unborn baby. . . all gone in a flash. The life that she’d come to know, gone before she ever really got to live it.
With a broken heart, she deals the only way she knows how, by shutting it all off. No communicating, no feelings, just pure nothingness.
Alone with nothing but her own thoughts and a well meaning family, she moves back to her childhood home, a horse farm. It’s there that she finds herself healing along with the horses her family rehabilitates. But when Parker McKenzie comes back into her life she’s reminded of all that went wrong, and all that she lost.
Will Katie ever begin to heal? Or will her secrets and loss be too much for her to overcome?
Perhaps, this is her kismet.
I stare at the TV again, not really watching what’s on, while the people around me busily prepare for my departure. A nurse fusses over my stitches and bandages, while my father and brother chat mundanely across the room from me. I hear my mother talking in hushed voices with Stevenson. I can’t make out the whole of their conversation, and I don’t really care to, but since the men in my family are speaking at an annoyingly loud decibel, I couldn’t if I tried. That being said, I hear a mix of their words.
“…Considering the trauma…low self-worth…Selective Mutism, which should be familiar…happens only in adults with previous mutism…as far as treatment…anxiety reduction…exposure exercises…”
These are all words my family and I are all too familiar with. My family know all the ins and outs of my diagnosis. They know the therapies—what has worked in the past, and what didn’t. We’ve been down this road before, and to think of traveling it again makes me sick to my stomach, but I can’t see how things will get better. My reasons for living are gone.
I shake my head, thinking about doctors. It hadn’t taken long for them to label me again, deciding what is best for me and my emotional well-being. I want to be pissed, to have some sort of reaction to something, but I just can’t muster a single feeling. I truly don’t care. They think they know me, but they don’t. All the degrees and training in the world can’t touch my emotional damage. I have nothing left to live for.
“I know that we’ve had our moments,” Parker says, and his voice is quiet as he gently puts his hand on mine, “but I’m just trying to help you, kiddo.”
My eyes find his icy blue ones, hidden under the most beautiful lashes, and my heart skips. I want to pull my hand away, but I can’t. There is something about his touch, something soothing and familiar. Without thinking, I run my hand up the length of his arm, taking a step towards him and allowing myself to get closer. Everything stills and I know my brain is no longer in control of my action, this is all my heart.
Our stomachs touch and I’m so close that I’m able to breathe in the familiar scent of him. I search his face, looking for some sort of insight. What is he thinking?
With another step, I place my left hand on his chest. He looks at me, unsure of himself. Not something I see on Parker often.
Before he can argue I throw myself at him, my arms wrap around his waist and I place my head on his shoulder.
Every muscle in his body goes lax as I hug him. “Jesus, Katie, I’ve missed you,” he whispers running his hand through my dark blonde hair. “I just want to hear your voice.”
I want to believe him but I can’t. Parker McKenzie has always been full of it. Back when I knew him—really knew him—he’d say and do anything to get what he wanted. Everything was always a conquest for him, just like I had been…and probably still am.
Hands rest on either side of my face, and Parker gently lifts my gaze to his. I want to hate him. I want to push him away from me. But I can’t. I’m frozen, under the control of emotions that have been buried away for years. With the realization that he still has a hold on my heart, the guilt washes over me. My stomach churns and I start to pull away from him.
As if sensing my change in mood, he tightens his grip on my wrists and pulls me back in. He thumbs my bracelet, reminding me of the depth of our relationship. There are so many layers to Katie and Parker. Layers that no one will truly ever uncover.
“I know I treated you like shit, and I know that I don’t deserve for you to give me a chance, but you’ve gotta know that the minute you left town seven years ago, I knew I’d made a mistake. I know you know it too. You and I were the only thing that ever made sense to me, Katie.”
Emotions begin to stir inside of me. His eyes burn down on mine. I struggle to organize my thoughts, wondering what my next move will be. We’ve never talked about that day, and I want to know why.
I consider my options. Do I start my healing by figuring out my past? I just want to know why things ended up the way they did. I want to make sense of this crazy thing called my life.
“What the hell’s going on here?” Tommy’s voice bellows through the stable.
Just like two gawky teenagers getting caught for the first time, we break our embrace. I look up to see Tommy stalking angrily down the narrow walkway of the barn.
“She’s my family too, Tommy,” Parker calls out. “I have a right to hug her if I want.”
Before I know it, Tommy’s chest is bumping with Parker’s. They’re standing face to face, their noses practically touching. The tension in the stable has just increased tenfold.
“She’s been through enough without you fucking with her head again, Parker!”
“I’m not fucking with her.” Parker pushes Tommy away with his hands. Tommy clenches his fists and I can tell he’s doing his best to control his anger. A nervous ball of energy rests in my stomach and I watch helplessly as Parker exits the stall and walks out of the barn. “I’m helping her,” he calls over his shoulder. “You would understand that if you knew anything about your sister.” And with those parting words he leaves Tommy and I alone with nothing but our silent thoughts.
A.E. lives in Vacationland with her husband and two children. Between her real job and writing she finds little time to enjoy life’s finer things. However in the free time she does manage to steal, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, and reading. A.E. is the author of Kismet and A Series of Imperfections: Imperfectly Perfect, Imperfectly Real, and Imperfectly Bad. She is currently writing her fifth book, Working Girl.