Perfectly Imperfect(7)

By: Harper Sloan

“I’m … I’ll—thank you for asking, but I’ll be fine.” I have no clue how I managed to get that out, but if I was hoping it would appease him, I was wrong.

“Right. I’ve no doubt about that, Willow. But it would ease my mind if you would at least allow me to offer some assistance.”

Oh, God. I need to get away. I don’t know how to even begin processing the way he’s making me feel. My feelings surmount the embarrassment I have over this situation. “That’s okay, Mr. Masters. I’m sure you have more important things to do. Thank you, though.” Right. That wasn’t too hard. At least, I made complete sentences this time. Well done, Willow.

“Nothing that can’t wait for me to help a beautiful woman out,” he says, and I snap my head back, knocking it against the wooden table behind where I’m crouched on the floor. “Shit,” he gruffs. Then, as if it couldn’t get worse, he crouches down and his long, thick fingers dive into my hair and rub against the spot I just banged. The second he touches my scalp, a fire shoots from the pads of his fingers and pings around my body like lava.

“It’s fine. I’m fine. Please …” I plead and look up through the foggy haze created by my unshed tears.

I watch his eyes fire, something working quickly over his expression before he wipes it clean. Before I can give it much thought, relief washes over me. Whatever he sees in the gaze he’s holding prisoner must be enough. A deep breath of air rushes from his full lips and warms my already burning face before he nods once and moves away from me. He doesn’t speak again; instead, he gathers the rest of my personal belongings and places them back in my broken purse. I pull myself from the floor carefully to avoid looking like the weakling that I am, and when Kane stands, I take my broken bag from his fingers. He doesn’t speak, just nods when I clutch it to my chest as if it was a shield.

“Thank you,” I murmur, not looking up from his chest.

“It was nothing.” He sighs softly.

“Well, thank you nonetheless. I’m sorry for interrupting your morning.”

“At the risk of sounding like a jerk, the interruption was my pleasure.”

My eyes flit to his quickly, and my mouth opens. I blink … slowly … a few times as his full lips turn up into a smile that makes my already racing heart pick up speed.

“Good luck in there, beautiful Willow.”

Another slow blink. Did Kane Masters just call me beautiful? Surely, not.

“Until next time,” he continues his deep rumbles.

Do what?

With that, he turns and walks over to the receptionist. With one more glance back, he follows her out of the lobby.

I take a few more minutes to collect myself before I grab the rest of my things and head to the doorway the others went through earlier. As hard as it is going to be to forget any of the last ten minutes happened, I do my best to shove that embarrassing scene into my box of shame deep within and collect the last shred of my pride before heading off to end this terrible chapter of my life.

An hour later, my divorce from Brad finally becomes official. It was easy enough; I asked for nothing knowing damn well it wouldn’t be given without a fight I couldn’t afford. I spent the whole time inside the conference room staring at my hands while my headache intensified. When I managed to pull my pride up like a proverbial big tug of my britches earlier and walk through the door, the first thing my eyes met were the hate-filled gaze of Brad Tate, my now ex-husband. When I sat down across the table from my perfectly tailored ex-husband, all I could do was wonder, and not for the first time, how we ever made it through four years of marriage. He sat there with a tight lip and narrow eyes, never wavering in his directed probing, as I tried my hardest to remember if we ever even liked each other.

No, I take that back. I liked him. But I can admit now it wasn’t love. I loved the idea of him, but it was only ever an unhealthy way for me to feel like I was desired by someone. I was alone and miserable, grasping at anything I could find to feel. But I can honestly say now it was never love.

He sat there as the mirror image of perfection. His body, one of his better qualities, looked nothing short of impeccable in his dark suit. His hair styled flawlessly and his face–the one I used to find so handsome—couldn’t even hide his attractiveness with the twisted look of abhorrence he directed across the table at me.