The Exception(3)

By: Adriana Locke


“I know it’s time to move on,” I sighed, feeling my shoulders dip. I wanted to move forward with the new phase of my life, but it was a little nerve wracking. I took a deep breath, remembering my mantra. Fake it ‘til you make it. “I’m going to start work tomorrow. There’s no need to wait until Monday to go in. I’ll give Dad a call and let him know I’ll be there bright and early.”

“Maybe some hottie will walk in the door and sweep you off your feet!”

“Yeah, that’s so likely.”

“Don’t rule things out! I meet guys in the strangest places. Remember the guy from Texas I met buying a gas can? Stranger things have happened!”

“Only you would meet a guy like that,” I laughed. “But in all honesty, I get really nervous just thinking about meeting someone. I don’t want to be alone forever, but I’m going to be really picky this time—like crazy picky. I want to find someone that wants me and only me. I want to be someone’s priority.”

“It will happen,” Kari nodded enthusiastically, the optimist in her blazing to the surface. “Everyone has a Prince Charming out there! I just hope yours has a sexy brother!”

I grinned. “Exactly! I need to go for the Prince Charming’s of the world. No more bad boys for me.”

“But they’re so fun!” Kari laughed before catching herself and pointing a manicured finger at me. “No, I get it. You are right. Some people, namely you, aren’t capable of just having sex. You have to go fall in love, so it would behoove you to play things carefully.”

“Behoove me?”

“Hush.”

The sound of the doorbell rang loudly through the house. Kari jumped in her chair, her eyes widening for a split second.

My eyebrows furrowed as I cast a curious look in her direction. “Are you expecting someone?”

“No, not really.” Kari stood up and cleared her throat. “It’s probably just Max.”

“Max?”

She turned towards the door with a coy smile on her lips. “Yeah, Max. Just a guy I’ve been seeing for a little while.”

“Seeing him? Want to go into detail because I’m getting the impression you’re downplaying something.”

“I’m seeing him in the loosest sense possible.” Kari laughed over her shoulder as she made her way towards the front of the house.

The door opened and closed. A deep male voice drifted into the kitchen, whetting my curiosity.

Kari had been a loner since getting her heart broken by a surfer from Australia. Since then, she refused to even consider settling down with one man. She operated on the premise of keeping men as close as necessary for maximum sexual pleasure—until said pleasure ran its course. Then she simply found another eager participant and it didn’t take long for a replacement to show up.

The fact that Max was dropping by and Kari was fine with that spoke volumes. I was a little shocked.

The voices coming down the hallway grew louder and I ran my fingers through my hair, hoping that I didn’t look as much of a mess as I felt. I patted beneath my eyes, feeling the puffiness beneath my dark green orbs from a lack of sleep.

I took a sip of my coffee as Kari appeared in the doorway, a man next to her that I presumed to be Max. He was tall, towering over Kari. I guessed him to be well over six feet. He had a chiseled face, golden tan, and jet-black hair. His eyes were a bright green and they held my gaze.

He quirked a brow, seemingly surprised to see Kari have company.

That makes two of us.

“Jada,” Kari started, her voice shaking ever-so-slightly, “this is Max. Max, this is my sister Jada.”

I smiled hesitantly at the man looming large in the doorway. “Hi, Max. It’s nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you, too.” His voice was deep and smooth, with just a touch of a southern drawl. It was the type of voice that made women swoon.

“Do you want a drink?” Kari motioned for Max to take a seat at the table.

“No, thanks. I didn’t realize your sister was here already. I can always come back.”

Kari walked around the table, pulled out her chair, and took her seat. “You aren’t interrupting anything. We were just reminiscing a little.”

Max placed his large hands on the back of the wooden chair across from me. He watched my sister intently, his features softening as she fiddled with her cross necklace. His tall, dark, and mysterious appearance would generally have me on edge; he was quite imposing. But there was just something about him that put me at ease. It was a complete paradox.

“If y’all are sure. I know you haven’t seen each other in a while.” He looked at Kari and pulled a chair out as she nodded. He sat down and looked at me, tilting his head to the side with a small smile on his handsome face. “It’s nice to finally meet Kari’s sister.”