"Lasting Fate" by: Charisse Spiers Cover Reveal
Lasting Fate Excerpt:
Pulling under my garage door, I park and kill the engine. I grab my satchel that I take back and forth from the office and step out of my beamer. It's been a long day. I grab the knot of my tie and pull, loosening it. When I get to the door my heart drops to my stomach. It's cracked. My first thought is that someone has broken in. I push it open and walk inside. I drop my bag at the door and pick up pace when I hear Bryce screaming at the top of his lungs. A fear I've never known races through my body. What if she's hurt? "Kinzleigh," I call out throughout the house. I get no response. When I make it to the living room Bryce is lying in his bassinet screaming and Kinzleigh is lying on the couch staring off into space like a zombie, ignoring him. His face is blood red like he's been crying for a while. I reach over and pick him up, pulling him to my chest. "Hey, buddy. Shh, shh, shh. It's okay," I say as I rock him. It's not helping. He's obviously hungry or wet. Hell, I don't know. I've never had a baby before and I'm a guy. I would get cranky if I was hungry. Kinzleigh is breast-feeding, so I don't know what I'm supposed to do.
"Kinzleigh, when is the last time you fed him?" I look over at her, still attempting to calm him down. My ears are stinging from his constant crying. I can't think. She has not even acknowledged I'm in the room. "Kinzleigh, what the fuck?" The only type of response I get from her are tears that fall from the corners of her eyes and they trickle down her nose before dropping onto the leather of the sofa. "I can't," is all she says and goes back to staring off into space. What the hell does that even mean, she can't?
"You can't or you won't? What happened to you? Are you sick?" He is still screaming, so I reach in the bassinet and get his pacifier, hoping it calms him a little until I can figure out what the hell I'm supposed to do now. "I can't," she says again. She's not even looking at him. I begin walking towards her in an attempt to see what's wrong and get her to feed him. She closes her eyes before I get there. "Please don't. I can't hold him. Please, take him somewhere else. Please..." I don't understand. She was fine when I left for work. I try to give him his pacifier. We don't have any formula, because she wanted to feed him naturally. How does everything change so drastically in twelve hours?
He takes it for a second before he figures out nothing is coming out of it and spits it back out, now mad as hell. I can't deal with this shit right now. I'm worried about her, because she's not acting right, but I have to get him calmed down first. Pulling out my phone from the pocket of my slacks, I hit one of the contacts in my immediate access list. It rings for a minute before the line picks up. "Preston? It's seven thirty and the sitter just left. Do I need to call her back? Is that Bryce? Is he okay?" Her voice is drowned out by his crying. I walk out of the room with the phone up to my ear. "Hey, Macie. I need your help. It's an emergency. It's about Kinzleigh. You can bring Talon." "Anything, Preston. Is she okay?"
I peek my head back in the door. She's still lying on the couch in the exact same position she was when I left. She is still staring at the wall blankly, no emotion registering on her face. "I don't think so. I came home and Bryce was screaming in his bassinet. She's just lying on the couch in a vegetative state. She won't hold him. I have no idea when she's fed him last. Can you bring some formula?" "I think I know what's wrong with her. I'll be right there. Give me fifteen minutes." She doesn't wait for an answer before disconnecting the call. I slide the phone back in my pocket and begin bouncing him slightly while I pat his back. His tiny head is resting against my cheek.
"It's okay, buddy. We'll get your mama fixed, okay? Don't worry. She must have a reason for letting you cry, she has to. You'll love her. She's kind of hard not to love." His cry is dying down, from the exhaustion I'm sure, but not stopping completely. I stand in the doorway watching her. I've never in my entire life seen her like this, not even when her grandmother died. It's like her soul has been sucked from her body, leaving nothing but a hollow woman lying in this big house. I'm scared to know what that means. I need to talk to Macie. I have a strange feeling I'm losing her. I've never been in love with a girl like I'm in love with Kinzleigh, and I never will be again, but I can't stand seeing her like this. If this is going to be the girl she becomes, then I'll have to make another choice, one that is going to forever destroy me for a woman. I won't trap her. We were happy before he came back. I won't watch her disintegrate and become lifeless to preserve my own happiness.
The realization occurs that if she doesn't get better I may have to let her go. Watching her lay as if she is alive, but dead, is killing me inside. I've never been an emotional guy until I went back to Mississippi that night and saw her the way I did. Something changed in me that night. From that point forward it wasn't about me, but her. I learned that when you love someone, you do what's best for them, even if it isn't what's best for you. I want to walk over to her right now, but I have to take care of Bryce first. I made a promise to love and take care of both of them. I'm going to keep that promise for as long as I can. Right now I'm scared and I don't know how long I'm going to get to hold onto what has become my family. Just because this child doesn't share my blood, he still shares a piece of my heart. I kiss the top of his head. He finally cried himself to sleep, but he won't be asleep long. Macie should be here soon. I can tell his diaper needs to be changed anyway.
I stare at the girl that captured my heart from the time I was just a teenager. I've really grown into a man from then to now. I rub my thumb back and forth on Bryce's head, above his ear. "I need to leave you for a minute, but I promise I'll come take care of you," I whisper into the air in her direction. "I love you, Kinzleigh." My eyes fill to the brim with tears, but I close my lids before they have the chance to fall. She doesn't have room in her life for someone that can't contain his emotions. I kiss the top of his head; his baby smell fills my nostrils. "I love you also, buddy." I hold him close to me and begin walking in the direction of the stairs and towards his room. I'm going to savor every moment with the two of them. My brain wants me to believe that I still have them forever, but my heart is preparing me for the worst.
After changing his diaper, I sit in the rocker and start to rock him. Macie walks in with a bottle in hand. She takes one look at me and gets a saddened look in her eyes, more like a look of pity. "You've gotten attached to him, haven't you?" "Yeah." I am not one of those guys that talk about the emotions fighting against each other deep inside. I prefer to keep to myself. Revealing parts of yourself to others sets you up for gossip and judgment. Coming from a family in the media that was something you didn't do. Kinzleigh is the only person I've ever let in.
"I hope I'm not overstepping any boundaries, because I really like you as a boss and a person, but you know there is only way to fix her, right?" I continue rocking back and forth, staring at the wall before me. I want to know, but at the same time I don't. I'm not sure I want to know the answer, because I think I already do. "What's that?"
"Preston, you can't fight soul mates. I know you love her, and I really believe she loves you in return, but she's meant for him. His return has changed the rules of the game. Her soul is fighting her, mourning for its other half. A doctor is going to tell you it's postpartum depression, but we both know what's really wrong with her." I'm getting mad. Things were going great before he came back. I'm not going to be an asshole and say I wish he would've died, because I don't, but she's the only girl I've ever wanted. That should count for something. "So, you think I should just hand her over to him? What kind of a man hands over the only thing he wants in life. I've only ever loved her..."
"I'm saying you should set her free. She made you a promise, and I don't think she's going to break it. Her soul is turning against her, rebelling until she gives it what it wants. As silly as it sounds, I really believe someone can die of a broken heart. Would you rather keep her alive and well or allow her to suffer slowly? If you really love her, prove it, and set her free her from the ropes that bind her. Selflessness, that's the ultimate sacrifice in love." I look down at the bundle in my arms. I can't let them go yet. I need a little more time. She could still get better. She has to get better. I'm trying to convince myself, but it's not working. Bryce wakes up crying. "Here, give him to me. Talon is watching television in the spare room downstairs. Go tend to her. She needs someone. She looks horrible."
I stand and hand him to her. I watch her sit in the chair, but I can't quit looking at him. "Preston..." I glance up at her. "We'll be fine. I've raised one baby. Go on." I nod and follow instructions, leaving the room. When I get to where Kinzleigh is, she looks worse than she did before. It feels like someone has a hold on my heart and squeezing as hard as they can until it pops. I get to her and squat down so that I'm at her level. "Kinzleigh," I whisper. Her eyes are void of all life and emotion. She doesn't look at me. It's as if she can't even hear me. Fuck it. I can't take this anymore.
I slide my arms underneath her and lift her, pulling her against my chest. "I'll do whatever I have to do to fix you, Kinz. I promise." I walk her upstairs and into our bathroom, sitting her on the toilet. She slumps slightly, but holds herself up. "Lift your arms," I state. She does as I say. I remove her shirt and she lowers them back down. I unclasp her bra and remove that too. She is now sitting in just her underwear. I unbutton my shirt and let it fall to the floor. Grabbing the collar of my undershirt, I pull it over my head and toss it down on the other one, forming a pile. I work quickly to unfasten my belt and pants, letting them drop to the floor as well. Stepping out of my shoes and pants in unison, I kick them to the side. Wrapping my arms around her waist, I pick her up and she wraps her legs around me, and then lays her head against my chest. I walk over to the large round tub and step in. Reaching forward and down, I turn the nozzle and adjust the settings until the water is warm.
I sit down as the bathtub fills with water. My eyes fill with moisture again, but this time I let them fall. My heart is breaking, shattering is a more appropriate word. The only things at the forefront of my mind are the things Macie said. I hold her wrapped in my arms and silently cry. My heart is trying to convince my mind that it's wrong, duking it out on what's best for her. I don't want to let her go. I want to love her each and every day for the rest of my life. I want to give her the world, and be her world, but after seeing how she reacted to him at the hotel that day and seeing her when she told him goodbye, and looking at her now, my mind is overpowering my heart. It's clear that what I want and what she wants are two different things.
I could hold onto her if I wanted, but my love for her guilt’s me, and won't let me do this to her. I feel like I'm being gutted at the realization of what I have to do. I'll never be the same after this. I'll never give my heart to another woman. When I do this I'm defying everything I was taught by giving in. I'm sacrificing my happiness for hers. When her and Bryce go, my heart goes with them. After holding her in the bathtub and trying to convince myself to go back on my decision, I bathed her and gave her some sleeping medicine from the cabinet. I lay her in the bed and pull the covers over her. It doesn't take her long before her eyes begin to roll in the back of her head and her lids close.
Her cell phone on the nightstand starts to ring. I notice it's an unsaved number. Trying not to wake her, I answer the call. "Hello." The line is silent. "Can I talk to Kinzleigh?" I look down at her. She is sleeping and looks peaceful for the first time since I got home from work. I'm not waking her. Besides, I'm about to give her over to the bastard anyway; he can let me have a few more hours.
"Now's not a good time," I say. "Are we really going to play it this way?" He breathes and I walk out of the room, quietly shutting the door. I move far enough away she can't hear me if she wakes.
I need him to stop calling, because what I have to do has to be done in person and I don't need him to worry Kinzleigh until this is done. "She doesn't want to see you, Breyson. Please stop calling." I disconnect the call and throw the phone at the wall, leaving a crack and a now shattered phone. I run my hands through my hair and rest against the wall, sliding down until I'm sitting on the floor. Leaning my head back I close my eyes.