Authors: Hannah Ford
“So you’re going home?”
“Is that okay?” I asked. “My sister’s getting married tomorrow, it’s last minute.”
“Of course,” she said. “You should be there for your sister.”
“But what about you? Are you… I mean, are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be fine,” she said. “My sister’s coming up to stay with me for a few days, and I’m going to… I have an appointment with a therapist later this afternoon.”
“That’s great,” I said honestly.
“Yeah.” Her cheeks were red. “And you?” she asked. “What about Callum? Do you want to talk about it? I feel so bad, you came home last night and we barely got to talk about what happened.”
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay.” There was a pause and she bit her bottom lip. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “This is going to sound really strange, but can you… can you go to our apartment and pack me a bag? It doesn’t have to be much.” Some of my things were at Callum’s, but a lot of my stuff was still at my apartment, especially the things that he hadn’t picked out for me, my old clothes. I needed to bring things to Michigan, and I couldn’t run the risk of running into Callum if he was on his way.
“He might come?” Nessa said, getting it.
“He will,” I said. “Just tell him I’m gone. Don’t tell him where I am, okay?”
“I promise.” She reached across the table and squeezed my hand. “We’re both going to be okay,” she said. “I know it.”
I squeezed her hand back, wishing I could be as confident.
* * *
wo hours later
, I arrived at JFK, with a new burner phone I’d picked up at a bodega near the airport. It was one of those pre paid phones, the kind that you needed to keep adding minutes to.
When I got to Michigan, I would buy a new, proper phone.
But for right now, I liked the idea of not having a phone that could be traced to me.
I was still in my yoga pants and zip up hoodie, sneakers on my feet.
Nessa had done a good job packing for me, making sure I’d have what I needed for my trip – jeans and sweaters, a wrap dress in case I needed to be dressy, underwear and pajamas – and I held the handle of my rolling suitcase as I made my way through the busy airport.
I had an hour before my flight – I’d gotten on the first one I could, paying more for a direct flight to Detroit, so that I didn’t have to deal with layovers. I wasn’t a good flyer, and the takeoffs and landings had always been the worst for me.
I grabbed some Dramamine and a bottle of iced tea from one of the gift shops, my eyes lingering on the bottles of lemonade in the cooler. The thought of anything lemon made my stomach roll.
I placed my purchases on the counter near the cash register, adding a pack of gum and a small bag of trail mix. I hadn’t eaten anything all morning – I’d ended up throwing out my bagel without even taking a bite -- and although the thought of food didn’t appeal to me at all, I knew I should try to have something in my stomach to keep to try to keep it settled once I was on the plane.
“Twenty-two dollars,” the salesgirl said, and I sighed and looked through my wallet. Now that I had no source of income, I probably shouldn’t be spending so much on things that weren’t really necessities, but whatever.
I pulled out a twenty-dollar bill, but I couldn’t find another two dollars. I started to reach for my debit card.
“I got it,” a voice said, smooth and even.
A strong forearm appeared in my line of vision, and at the end of it was a hand holding a black Amex.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
He’d found me.
I didn’t know how, but he’d found me.
I could sense him next to me, his presence, commanding and strong.
My stomach flipped and I slid my debit card out from its slot.
“It’s fine,” I said, my hand shaking. “I can use my debit card.”
The sales girl looked at me, then reached over and took the card out of my hand. I could tell from the look on her face and the way her lips formed an O that she was looking at Callum, noticing how hot he was. I willed myself not to look at him.
I signed the receipt, scribbling my name hastily, then shoved it into my wallet, grabbed the bag of snacks, and ran out of there.
I still hadn’t looked at him, but all I wanted to do was put as much distance between us as I could. It was like resisting looking directly at the sun, or trying to stick to a diet – every step away from him was torture, but I kept going.
But it was futile.
He caught up to me within a few feet, stepped in front of me and blocked my path.
He was so tall, so strong, his chest wide and broad. He was still wearing what he’d had on last night, his pressed suit now slightly wrinkled and mussed.
“Look at me,” he breathed.
A sob escaped my lips.
“Adriana,” he said, and he moved toward me, put his hands on my upper arms, his touch burning through my sweatshirt. “Look. At. Me.”
I kept my eyes averted, and he took my chin and tipped it up so I was forced to look at him.
His blue eyes burned. There was a bruise under his eye, a cut on his lip, but otherwise, he was Callum, just as devastating and gorgeous as ever. He was the man I loved, the man I couldn’t say no to, the man I needed to stay away from, the man who was everything and nothing to me at all once.
My instinct was to melt into him.
But I forced my heart to go cold.
“How did you know I was here?” I demanded.
“I begged Nessa until she told me.”
Anger burned. Nessa. I was going to kill her. I couldn’t imagine Callum begging for anything.
His touch continued to scorch my skin through my hoodie, his grip sending shockwaves through my body.
If I stayed connected to him physically for too much longer, I was going to break.
I took a step back and began walking away from him, back toward the gates for American Airlines.
“Go home, Callum,” I said. “I have nothing to say to you.”
He followed me.
“I’m going with you,” he said.
“No.” I shook my head. “No, you’re not.”
“We’ll take my jet.”
I looked up at the board in front of me, scanning it until I found my flight and gate number. Gate G56. I committed it to memory. “I’m not going anywhere with you,” I called over my shoulder as I continued walking.
He sighed, like he was considering his options and had come to the conclusion that perhaps he was going to have to do something he didn’t want to do. I had a mental picture of him picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder, carrying me out of the airport. He wouldn’t do that in public, I told myself.
But I couldn’t put anything past him, either.
“Fine. If you refuse to take the jet, I will join you on your flight.”
“The hell you will,” I said, whirling around to face him. He couldn’t be serious.
“I already have my ticket.” He held up his phone, showing me his e-ticket. “I bought it on the way over here.”
“No.” I kept walking, faster and faster, until I was running. I was running through the airport, faster and faster, until I ended up tripping and falling, my bag of snacks falling everywhere.
Callum knelt down beside me and picked everything up, put it back in the bag as I buried my face in my hands.
“Please,” I said. “Please, why are you doing this?” Hot tears burned at the back of my eyes. I’d thought I was free, but now he was here, pulling me back under, shackling me to him. Of course, I could only ever be so free of him – even if he wasn’t with me physically, his presence was constant, pounding through my veins, ever present in my heart.
He took my chin again and forced me to look at him again. “Because I can’t stay away from you,” he whispered, and for the first time since I’d known him, he sounded scared. His thumb brushed a tear from my cheek. “I am shocked by the depth of my love for you.”
A breath rose in my lungs, hitching in my chest. “What you did last night is not what you do to someone you love.”
“One trip,” he said softly. “Let me prove that I am worthy of you.”
“I lost my job, Callum.”
“Because of you.”
“I know.” His gaze remained on mine, strong and true, never wavering. And as much as I was upset with him, as much as I hated what he was doing to me, as angry as I was at his brazenness for just showing up here and making demands when I’d made it perfectly clear that I never wanted to see him again, he made me feel safe.
I felt grounded, taken care of.
I knew that if I brought him to Michigan, the trip would be better.
I felt these things so sure, so strong. And yet how? How could I be back here? How could I be ready to make the same mistakes I’d been making over and over with him?
Was I really that weak?
I am shocked by the depth of my love for you.
His words reverberated through my brain.
His eyes looked sincere.
I was helpless against the whirlwind of my emotions, but I dug deep, summoning the last of my reserves.
“No,” I said.
“Stay away from me.” My voice was stronger now.
“Figure it out.”
I got up and walked toward the gate.
And this time, he let me go.
* * *
y heart was pounding
on takeoff, the blood rushing through my ears so loud I could hear it beating in time with my pulse.
I was seated next to a twenty-something guy with long dirty blonde hair and a beanie on his head. Luckily, he wasn’t a talker. He had ear buds in, but I’d forgotten mine.
My body was wired with anxiety, and I was tense, not just from the take off, but also from seeing Callum.
I tried to do my deep breathing and relax, but it didn’t work.
As soon as I got to Michigan, I was going to call my therapist and make sure I got my Ativan prescription refilled.
The plane swerved and dipped before finally leveling out in the sky.
The seatbelt sign switched off, and I was out of my seat and heading for the bathroom half a second later.
I was overheated, and I needed a moment alone, needed to splash water on my face and cool down.
I was opening the bathroom door when a hand landed on my shoulder and his body pressed into me from behind.
My heart raced and I turned to look. There he was, behind me.
The bastard had followed me onto the flight.
I tried to turn and go back to my seat, but he held me pinned to him, one hand on my hip, one on the small of my back.
“Go into the bathroom, Adriana,” he commanded.
I tried to wrench free, but he opened the door and pushed me inside, then came in after me, shutting the door behind him.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Taking what’s mine.” His lips crashed into mine, the small space making it impossible to rail against him.
I turned my head, but he pressed me against the sink, the metal pressing into my back painfully.
“No,” I said. “Callum, no. Let me go.”
He grabbed my wrists. “I’ll get what I need either way, Adriana,” he said. “It’ll be easier if you admit you want it too.” His breath was hot against my cheek, and he grabbed my buttocks and lifted me up, setting me down on the edge of the sink.
I pressed my legs together, but he put his hands on my knees and pried them apart, pushed his body in between them and silenced my protests with another hard, deep kiss.
His hand held the back of my neck, forcing my mouth against his, as his tongue pushed past my lips, invading me.
My body instantly responded.
He had trained me well, had trained me to want it rough like this, to ache for him to be in control, to want him to push me and take me any way he desired.
My pussy got wet, my breathing got shallow, my body began to melt as he expertly tongued my mouth.
I placed my hands against his strong chest, tried to push him away from me, but he pulled away and looked at me with a glint in his eye. “You like to fight me, don’t you, baby?”