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Authors: K. A. Linde

Avoiding Commitment

 

 

 

AVOIDING COMMITMENT

 

 

K.A. Linde

 

 

SMASHWORDS

 

Published by

K.A. Linde at Smashwords

 

 

This book is also available in print at selected
online retailers

 

 

Avoiding Commitment

Copyright © 2012 K.A. Linde

 

 

 

All Rights Reserved. This book may not be reproduced,
scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission from the author. Please do not participate in or
encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the
author’s rights. All characters and storylines are the property of
the author and your support and respect is appreciated.

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are
fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is
coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Edited by Jenny Aspinall, Rebecca Kimmerling, and
Lori Francis

Cover photo © iStockphoto.com/Nuno Silva

Cover Design by Sarah Hansen

 

 

 

--December 9th

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

PRESENT

 

 

Vibrations reverberated throughout the
miniscule apartment. The sound dulled and then died, not even
registering on the tiny figure wrapped in a heap of hand-me-down
quilts. Again, the electronic noise pierced the early morning
silence. Lexi groaned, nearly rolling off the twin sized bed. Her
hand fumbled clumsily for the alarm clock, slamming on the snooze
button several times before realizing that it wasn’t even plugged
in, let alone set for an early Saturday morning wake-up call.

She peeled her eyes open searching
desperately for the obnoxious noise before zeroing in on her crummy
old cell phone. It was situated between a box of photographs, last
night’s cup of coffee, and her laptop, which had turned itself off
when she hadn’t been kind enough to plug it in for the night. She
stared across the room, debating whether the call was worth getting
out of her cozy nook so early on a Saturday morning, just as the
third ring blared through the apartment. Shoving the covers off of
her bare legs, she stumbled out of bed, immediately stubbing her
big toe on her nightstand. She swore profusely and barely kept from
falling over as pain shot through her toe. Reaching out for the
cell phone, she extended her arm and barely saved it before it
vibrated over the side of the cluttered desk.

“Mmm hmm?” she mumbled groggily into her
phone. She succumbed to the throbbing pressure in her foot and
collapsed on the grey area rug she had indefinitely borrowed from
her college roommate.

“Lexi.” It was a statement not a question.
The voice was familiar, but it was so ridiculously early, she
wasn’t going to blame herself for not immediately recognizing the
deep masculine tone.

Lexi pulled the phone from her ear and looked
at the time. She groaned when she saw it was only six; four hours
before she needed to be awake. The number glaring blindly from the
screen wasn’t programmed into her phone, but this came as no
surprise. She had accidentally dropped her phone into a toilet two
months earlier in a nightclub. The phone had miraculously survived,
but she had lost all of her numbers.

What perplexed her was that it wasn’t an area
code local to New York, where she had been residing the last two
years for law school. Strangely enough, it was an Atlanta area
code, and the only people she still talked to from home were her
parents. When she had replaced the numbers in her phone, she hadn’t
retained any other Atlanta phone numbers. Since moving to New York
City, she had tried to let go of her past and move on to her bright
future.

“Lexi, are you there?” the unidentified voice
repeated into the phone. “I know…”

“Who is speaking?” she asked cutting him off
abruptly. “Do you realize it’s six o’clock in the morning on
Saturday
?” she questioned him further. “Some people do like
to sleep in,” she spoke sharply into the cell phone, adjusting her
seat so as to assess the extent of her injury.

“Yeah, look, I’m sorry,” he implored her. “I
would have
never
called if I didn’t absolutely have to.”

Her brain was trying to signal to her that
she knew that voice. It sounded so familiar, but there was no way
it could be
that
voice. Lexi rubbed her tired eyes before
allowing herself to speak again. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “Who did you
say this was again?” The person on the other end didn’t say a word.
Lexi knew that wasn’t good.

The silence prolonged as neither person
seemed willing to speak up. Finally, he emitted a tiny sigh and
said, “Lex, it’s Jack.”

Chill bumps broke out across her arms and
neck as his name registered and she was able to finally place the
voice…
that
voice. It was him. Oh God! Why was he calling
her?

The sound of her heart palpitating inside her
chest could be heard out the door, down the hall and quite possibly
outside in the nearby construction zone through the jackhammer
slamming against the concrete…not to mention through the phone. Her
mouth felt like she had been chewing on chalk all night.
Butterflies whacking their tiny wings violently against her insides
suddenly assaulted her stomach. All she could do was cough in
disbelief. Her mind was whirling with indescribable possibilities
for the purpose of his phone call, each new idea seemingly more
ridiculous than the last.

She wasn’t sure if she was overreacting. So
she hadn’t heard a word from him since their last encounter over a
year and a half ago, that didn’t mean that he couldn’t randomly
drop her a line at six o’clock in the morning. After all, they had
been friends, of sorts, for nearly six years now.

“Look, I know I shouldn’t have called so
early. I didn’t mean to intrude,” he said quickly.

She was terrified that he might hang up after
only a few short minutes of his time. “What? No. Of course you’re
not intruding. I just wasn’t expecting…well you. I wasn’t expecting
you,” she could hear how breathy and uneven her voice had gotten
and wanted to kick herself with her hurt toe for being such a
girl.

“Yeah, I’m sorry. I know it’s been awhile
since we last spoke.” That was an understatement.

“Yeah, well, I lost all of the numbers in my
phone.” Not that she would have called him. Anyways, he likely
didn’t have the same excuse.

He didn’t say anything for a second. She
figured he just didn’t have a response to that. “I guess I’ll just
cut to the point,” he finally stated. “I need you.”

Lexi froze, not able to comprehend what she
had just heard. Her mind poured over the countless interpretations
of that statement. “You what?”

“I mean, I need you here.”

Her eyes bulged out. She could feel them
drying out, but somehow couldn’t bring herself to blink. She
couldn’t process what he was saying. He needed her? Not just needed
her, but needed her there with him. Needed her home. She shook her
head realizing she must be misunderstanding him. There was no way,
after everything that had happened between them, he would ever call
her like this. “I’m sorry…what?”

“I’m not getting this out right. It’s kind of
hard to explain. Do you have a minute?”

She glanced around her tiny room, as specks
of light began to filter in through the window. She visualized her
planner, filled to the brim with meetings and appointments
weekdays, and then her lame Saturday with only a haircut on the
schedule. All she had was time. “It’s six in the morning. Go ahead,
Jack,” she said letting his name roll off her tongue the same way
he had…she stopped herself. No point in letting her mind venture
there.

“Are you sitting down? This is kind of a
strange story.”

“Uh…yeah, I am,” she said glancing around her
tiny apartment. Her bedroom walls were covered in cracking soft
green paint that had probably been there since the dawn of time,
and a collage of hooks and holes from previous tenants. Her floor
was scattered with dirty laundry and destroyed textbooks. The
sparse amount of furniture she had been able to haul up the seven
daunting flights of stairs still managed to make the space look
cluttered, something she had never quite been able to figure out.
“So…uh…what is this strange story?”

“Okay, well, just hear me out, because I
promise I wouldn’t have called and bothered you if it wasn’t for a
reason I thought was worthwhile.” He sucked in a long deep breath
before continuing. “So, I’ve been dating this girl,” he began,
coughing a little at the introduction to the conversation. “She’s
really great. Actually, I think ya’ll would get along. Anyway, she
is really into uh…marriage,” he said awkwardly. “And…well…you know
me.”

She did know him. He despised the idea of
marriage, the idea of being tied down to one person, suffocating
under the monogamous bonds forced upon you by a legally binding
document. Knowing that after that moment, there was no turning
back. Except, of course, there was always divorce. She was pretty
sure that the only thing he hated more than marriage was the idea
of divorce. Breaking up was bad enough without the added effort of
divvying up possessions, possibly children, moving out, starting a
new life, and not to mention court fees, custody battles, and worst
of all, lawyers. She giggled a little on the inside at that last
thought. After all, she had spent the last two years of her life
studying law. “Yeah, I know. Mr. Anti-Commitment,” she said only
half-joking.

He breathed out heavily. “Now that you
mention it, that’s kind of what it boils down to.”

“What? The fact that you have the capability
of convincing women to hold out for you until you break their
hearts?” she asked coldly. Really, she had no idea where this was
leading. Why was he talking to her, of all people, about possibly
marrying his girlfriend? He hadn’t spoken to her in over a year and
a half, and she was pretty sure
her
opinion on marriage was
irrelevant to his decision. After all, her opinions on
relationships, in general, had always been irrelevant.

“Yeah,” he replied very softly into the
phone. She almost hadn’t heard him. “Yeah, that’s what this is
about.” She waited for him to elaborate. After a brief pause, he
began to explain the mess he had gotten himself into. “My
girlfriend asked me if I wanted to marry her. Not like a proposal
or anything,” he quickly corrected, “more like a question to see
where our relationship was headed. I didn’t have an answer for her.
I mean what kind of guy has an answer for that? But as you know…I
mean because of my parents…the thought of marriage tends to make me
run head first in the opposite direction. She pinned me down
though, said she would leave me that second if I didn’t give her an
answer, which really took me off guard.”

Lexi felt like she was sitting on the edge of
her seat about to witness a train wreck. Any girl who had ever
tried to pin Jack down for
anything
experienced rejection
like a blow to the face.

“So I told her that was what I wanted.”

“What?” she sputtered helplessly into the
phone. “You told her you wanted to
marry
her?” Her mouth
dropped open forming a little “oh” of disbelief.

He chuckled lightly at her reaction. “I told
her I could see myself marrying her, but that I wasn’t ready to
commit yet. I mean we’ve only been dating for a year and a half.”
Jack cleared his throat before continuing. “Luckily, she took that
as a positive answer and didn’t break up with me. Then comes the
part of the story where you come in.”

“Me? I don’t see how I could possibly come
into a story about you marrying someone else.”

“Well, she wants to meet you.”

She could have never prepared for that
answer. “What? I think I must have missed something. The girl that
you are dating, that you
want
to marry, wants to meet
me
. Why? I’m so…insignificant,” she mumbled disheartened.
She couldn’t even think about the different times her and Jack had
tried to form a relationship. Nothing had ever worked, and the last
time… She stopped herself again from entertaining the thought. The
hole that Jack left still ached when prodded, and she avoided
irritating the wounded feeling that crept through her.

“Don’t say that. You know you’re not
insignificant.” She let silence settle between them, not wanting to
be the first to speak next. After listening to her breathe heavily
for a while, he spoke again. “She got this idea in her head that
she wants to meet every girl I’ve dated to find out why I was
unable to commit to them. I guess she think it will help her figure
out why I’m not committing to her. And don’t try to say this
doesn’t apply to you because we didn’t date. I wouldn’t have
dragged you into this Lex, but she heard about you from Kate.”

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