© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific directions to the original content.
Read book one, Because You Don't Know My Name here: https://amzn.to/3P2UsVH
Read book two, Will You Say My Name here: amzn.to/43FSsWT
This is an unedited snippet.
The image of Don hanging up the phone in my face and walking away replayed in my head like a broken record. It felt like the universe’s way of reminding me that happy endings only existed in fairytales. I’d been through so much that any dose of happiness felt like a setup. Knowing I couldn’t jump through the plexiglass that separated us, that I couldn’t explain my side of this twisted ass story and ease his pain, killed me. Instead, I sat there, stuck on stupid, watching him walk out of my life forever.
I’d wasted so much time and energy on things and people that didn’t feed my soul. Life had depleted me, but then Donovan came along. I didn’t know how much he would change my life when we met. He was the one who pieced my broken heart back together after his brother nearly ruined me. He helped me feel worthy of love and affection. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if our meeting was fate or simply bad luck. I felt as if I owed him my heart and then some. Giving him the money I’d stolen from Enzo was the least I could do. At least with the money, he could have the one thing he’d been fighting so hard for, especially if my biggest fear came true. As badly as I wanted the baby growing inside me to be his, I was terrified the baby was Enzo’s. Although he was dead, a baby would mean a connection to him I could never truly break. He’d been tormenting my mind and body ever since he’d invited himself to stay in my apartment, and as a result, could’ve left behind his demon seed.
Two days before I was set to be shipped back to Chicago, I was notified that the prosecutor dropped the charges against me since Enzo was deceased. Technically, it was my word against his about what happened the night I shot him. That and the gunshot wound I’d sustained from him were enough to show he was, and always had been, the aggressor in our relationship. Soon after, I was released from police custody and cleared of all charges. I should’ve been happy about it, over the moon, even. I was a free woman, but I still felt shackled to the only ghost from my past I couldn’t outrun. Plus, everything about my life was hanging in the balance.
One of the first things I did after receiving all my belongings was call Don. It immediately went to voicemail the first, second, and third time I called. Which meant he hadn’t hesitated to block my number. After returning to my apartment and being met with a vacant, pitch-black space, all I could see were the remains of the crime scene. I knew I couldn’t stay there. Not knowing what to do next, I opened my banking app to check and see if Don had used the money for his diner. My eyes widened in surprise when I saw the exact dollar amount hadn’t changed. Every dollar was still there.
“Dammit, Donovan!” I hissed.
I knew I needed to see him in person to be able to read him and see where his head was at. After driving past the diner and noticing the lights were off, and the doors were locked, I decided to go by his place. My heart seized the minute I pulled my knuckle away from his door. Dozens of thoughts spun around my head like a tornado. What if he didn’t answer? What if he didn’t want to talk? How long would I wait for him?
“Who is it?” his low, gravelly voice asked from the other side of the door.
Too afraid that the sound of my voice might spook him, I didn’t say a thing. A heartbeat later, the door opened. The minute his guarded, brown orbs landed on mine, he froze, unwilling to come within a certain distance of me. Silence hung between us as he stared at me with such intensity behind his eyes. I felt almost paralyzed under his gaze, unable to move a muscle until he spoke.
“I didn’t expect to see you back here,” he muttered, brows snapped together as he spoke.
“Why the fuck are you here?”
“C-can I please c-come in?”
“Please, Don,” I begged with sincerity in my eyes. “I want a chance to explain everything.”
His forehead creased. “I don’t wanna talk about that.”
“Please, let me explain.”
“I said I don’t wanna talk about that shit!” he grumbled, voice reaching a higher octave.
Pain was scribbled all over his face as he spoke. It was as if we were trapped under a tidal wave, trying not to drown.
“It’s not what you think.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t, but it doesn’t change the fact that… never mind.”
“Donovan, can I please come in?” I queried again.
He sucked his teeth before stepping aside. “Fine. You’ve got ten minutes.”
I inched a few paces inside before turning to face him. “Listen, the last time we saw each other, I–”
“You were behind bars about to be shipped back to Chicago,” he interjected.
I dipped my chin in a nod. “Yeah.”
“And then you broke my fuckin’ heart when you told me the baby you were carrying could be my brother’s.”
The chill in Don’s tone took my breath away. It was frigid and heartless. “Don, please let me explain–”
I felt like a record stuck on repeat, although I knew whatever came out of my mouth wouldn’t be enough to heal the hole in his chest.
“How could you?” he raged. “I protected you! I-I killed my flesh and blood for you, Indigo. My blood! How could you do that shit to me?”
My head wagged from side to side. “Listen, the week Enzo was here was pure hell for me, Don! Wrathful fire and brimstone, hell! He moved himself into my place and took advantage of me anytime he wanted. He was getting back at me for what I did to him! Nothing about my interactions with him was consensual. I’ve been praying day and night since I found out I was pregnant that this baby is yours and not his! I want to leave him in my rearview… I thought I already had,” I confessed with a sigh.
Don’s lips twisted to the side. “Indigo, I–”
I held up my hand to stop him. “No. You don’t need to apologize. You’ve done so much for me already.”
He sighed. “Nah. I do need to apologize. I’m sorry I let myself jump to conclusions. I was hurting. I was in pain. You’re the only person that makes me feel anything, good or bad. Hearing those words come out of your mouth pushed me to a place I haven’t been in a long time. The more I tried to tell myself I hated you, the harder it became to believe. I couldn’t hate you if I tried, especially not after hearing that. No woman deserves that, especially not you. I’m glad he’s dead.”
My chest deflated with relief. “You and me both.”
“So, what happened with Chicago?” he questioned.
“A couple of days before I was supposed to be transferred, they came to my cell and told me I was being released. I asked how that was possible, and they said the prosecutor dropped the charges once they found out that Enzo was dead.”
“So, that’s it? It’s over?”
“In some ways, I feel like things are just beginning,” I announced while looking down at my belly.
His eyes traveled down to my flat stomach before slowly trailing back up to mine. “I know I said I didn’t want to talk about it, but I need to know what happens now.”
Although his statement was extremely pressing, it was warranted. After learning his brother was a part of my pregnancy equation, the stakes were higher than ever. A part of me wished I hadn’t been able to rally the strength and courage to tell him the truth. But there would never have been a good time to throw the messy paternity twist of a landmine like that into our relationship.
“What do you want to happen?” I asked, finally replying.
“I need you to get a prenatal paternity test done.”
My brows heightened. “Don, I–”
“Please, put yourself in my shoes for once. If you were me, wouldn’t you want to know?”
“Do you still love me?” I queried, answering his question with one of my own.
“This has nothing to do with whether I love you or not,” he replied before looking away.
“If it has nothing to do with it, why can’t you say it?” I protested.
An aggravated huff of air pushed through his nostrils. “Because maybe I don’t wanna commit to taking care of someone else’s kid like my father did! I need to know if this baby is mine or not, Indigo. There ain’t no way around it,” he confessed.
“And if it’s yours?”
“Then we can talk about what that means for us.”
“And if it’s not? Then what? Does everything change? Do we act like we don’t know each other like you and Mel?”
Don stared into space with his mouth hung open for a few seconds too long, reigniting all my insecurities about abandonment. His shoulders bobbed before he spoke. “I don’t know, Indigo. I only know that I need to know the truth.”
I sighed before quickly dipping my chin. A part of me wanted to argue that if he couldn’t love me for me, no matter whose baby I was carrying, then we didn’t need to be together. But other parts of me knew that, in time, I would be okay without him because he’d shown me what true love was.
A tear slipped from my cheek. “I’m sorry I hurt you,” I announced.
“I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
I swiped away the moisture against my cheeks while shaking my head. “No. You’re right. You deserve to know. I’ll set up an appointment with my doctor and let you know what to do next.”
Coming Friday, August 25th.