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.
Turning the corner from the hallway into the kitchen, I find my family talking to someone. It doesn’t matter that his back is turned to me because I would recognize that frame anywhere. Frozen in my space in the doorway, my breath hitches and my heart jumps to my throat, causing me to choke. I know without a doubt that the person standing there is Tommy’s lifelong best friend, Parker McKenzie.
“Hey, sis, look who came by to say hi!” Tommy smiles. It’s not a genuine smile, it’s his smug smile—the one he uses when he’s done something sneaky. In an instant, I know, without a doubt, that he’s done this on purpose and I want nothing more than to punch him in the face for it. I consider jumping across the kitchen and grabbing him by the throat, but I decide that the action would be too full of emotion. So instead I stew on my anger, filing it deep down within me for some other time.
Parker turns his attention toward me, looking over his shoulder in my direction. The minute his eyes catch mine my heart stops beating. I wasn’t ready to see him. Not yet, probably not ever in fact. He’s already smiling, the same earth shattering grin that I’ve seen a million times before. He looks just like I remember him, only older. He was a kid the last time I saw him, but now that boy had turned into a man, a five o’clock shadow in place of his previous baby face.
“Hey, Katie.” He stands from the kitchen table and with two easy strides he’s hugging me, his arms enveloping me just as though no time has passed.
My own arms hang at my sides, my heart palpating from the sudden contact. My breath hitches with unease. If I could claw at my skin, I would, but my arms are still pinned to my sides, Parker holding them firmly into place. I watch helplessly as Tommy taps him on the back, indicating that it’s too much.
Suddenly realizing that he’s made a mistake he mutters, “Sorry,” and he lets me go. I close my eyes and rub my arms, attempting to cleanse my skin from his touch. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. That hug wasn’t his to take.
Seething, I look up at him. I know Parker means well, he always means well, but he never did have much sense when it came to personal boundaries. And what was he sorry for? Sorry for hugging me? Sorry for my loss? Sorry for coming here? He should be sorry, sorry for it all. I fight the urge to reach out and slap him for being such an inconsiderate bastard. But I don’t.
I fume silently to myself. He has no right to show up here today, let alone be the first one to touch me like that. My own family haven’t felt comfortable enough to hug me yet. The most contact I’ve had is holding Tommy’s hand, and he’s my brother.
The room fills with uncomfortable silence. I know that everyone is waiting to see my next move, but there won’t be one. I refuse to react.