“Are you trying to hurt me? Rub it in that you’re kicking my mom out of her home? Going back on your word to me? That’s so sick.”
“No!” He slammed his hand on his desk and I jumped. “This is sick!”
He held up a photo. A close-up of my face when I was eleven, bloodied and broken. That had been one of the worst. I still felt my mother’s nails sink into my skin like claws as she screamed at me. Hating me. Trying to cut the skin from my cheekbones and tear apart my face with her bare hands.
“I don’t know how you can care about someone who did this to you, but I sure as hell won’t.” His eyes were the darkest I had ever seen them. His breathing was coming quicker. Adam Kinkade was irate.
I took a deep breath and tried to take a mental step back. I wasn’t used to being the calm one in a situation, but now it looked like I had no choice.
He was all worked up and for what? Me? In his own way, he was protecting me. Attempting to save me from something that had been done. A raw anger seeped from him. I recognized it because I had felt it for most of my childhood. But I was an adult now, and with that came responsibility.
“She’s my mother, Adam.”
His face went stark.
He came around the desk and stood before me. I rose to meet him. When I did, he cupped my face in his palms and kissed me. Hard. Angry. I knew his intentions were good, but sometimes he set about things in a backward way. I was learning to combat this with the only thing I could.
“I want to do something, Katelyn,” he rasped against my mouth. “I want to fix this. Make her pay for the hurt she’s caused you.”
I never would have thought Adam capable of losing his control. Standing there in his arms, I felt the heat of his rage. I was getting a glimpse of the side he refused to show me, and it was dark. A raw ache drifted off of him like morning fog along the water. That thick hatred that developed only through utter anger and shame.
I wasn’t the only one running from a terrible past. Adam was, too.
“Is that how you feel about your stepfather?” The words came out before I even realized I had spoken them.
I hadn’t said it to be mean. I wanted to know him. He demanded the truth from me, and I’d give it. But I wanted him in return. Wanted to be a source of good in his life that he could turn to.
He dropped his hands and stepped away from me. Shock plagued his handsome face. He forced me to deal with my issues head on. It was his turn to unburden himself, and I wanted to comfort him.
“What the f**k does that mean?” he demanded.
“After your mother died…you lived with him for two years before foster care.”
“I see you’ve been reading Wikipedia.”
“At least I didn’t steal your medical records.”
“My past is not a topic of conversation. Ever.”
“How can you demand all this from me? Throw pictures in my face, have me relive everything that happened, and stand there and tell me you won’t do the same? I’ve been honest with you, Adam. Yet you give me nothing.”
“Let this go, Katelyn.”
“Did you try to kill him?”
He grinned. Grinned! “Yes. I did.”
For a brief moment, pain trekked Adam’s face. But then it was replaced by a mask of rage. Whatever his stepfather had done to him—
I remembered the first night I had spent with him. When I woke him and he gripped my wrist…
Bile rose to my throat and I resisted the urge to cover my mouth. I threaded all the signs together and it began making sense. Adam’s need for control. Dominance. The way he’d reacted to taking my virginity. The blood…
Whatever expression I wore made Adam’s fit of anger skyrocket. “Don’t you dare pity me!” he snarled. “Whatever the f**k it is you’re thinking, you’re wrong and you need to stop.”
I didn’t say anything, but then again, I didn’t have to. He had told me twice now that my face seemed to give away my thoughts.
“Adam, nothing will change how I feel about you.” I reached for him, but he moved away.
“We’re done here,” he growled.
He led me to the door and opened it. He damn near had to push me through it before he closed it, and me, off.
My mind raced and I realized several things had just happened. Adam’s past was much more painful than I’d ever imagined, and I had no idea how to help him.
He had made it clear that he didn’t want me right now. Maybe not ever, after this.
When the elevator took me down, I sat alone in the car and cried. Cried for Adam, cried for myself, and cried for our obviously doomed relationship.
We were two broken people who couldn’t communicate about the darkness that was swallowing us whole.
Megan and I sat on the couch in sweat pants, and a half-eaten pizza lay on the coffee table. I zoned out to really bad TV trying to gain a grip on today’s events, but it had totally fried my brain. Every internal organ hurt, as though I was physically aching for Adam.
He was hurting. And there was nothing I could do. There was nothing he’d allow me to do. I felt useless. Angry. I wanted to take whatever pained him away and replace it with something better. Something that made him happy, that made him smile.
He deserved to smile.
He was a strong, domineering man to his very core. I wanted to help him. The last few hours had consisted of me going from grief, to rage, to utter depression. I wanted to kill anyone who would ever hurt him. While I didn’t know the whole story, I knew Adam’s stepfather had abused him. The need to punish that mongrel was overwhelming.
This must have been how Adam had felt when he found out it was my mother who had caused all the scarring on my face.
The twisted part of me felt happy that he cared so much. Somehow, he felt the same as I did about him. Granted, his tactics were a bit extreme, what with getting my medical records. Could two people with this much baggage work out in the end?
I hoped so, because the alternative made me sick.
Megan had pressed me all afternoon about what had happened. I was obviously in a bad mood, but I couldn’t tell her much. I would never break Adam’s trust that way. I checked my phone for the millionth time and still there was no call or text from him.
“Seriously, what happened with you two today? Did he upset you? Hurt you?”
“Adam wouldn’t hurt me like that, Meg.” She wasn’t Adam’s biggest fan, but I couldn’t have her thinking the worst. “He just…he found out about my mom.”