Kara yawned as she woke up on the cold hardwood floor feeling cheap and used as her phone rang beside her. She saw “James” on the screen as she hit the green talk button.
“Hello,” she asked groggily.
“I’m sorry, did I wake you,” James asked, “I could always call you back later.”
“You’re fine,” Kara replied, “I was just waking up, Craig called and asked me if I would take the kids.”
“Believe it or not,” James began, “Marc’s girlfriend, I think Vero is her name took them because Craig forgot you were showing me the apartment today.”
“Oh my God,” Kara laughed, “I shouldn’t have drank last night, I’m losing it.”
James laughed on the other end of the line, “We all drank a hell of a lot last night. We paid for it today too, coach made us run drills until we puked.”
“Suits you guys right,” Kara joked, “You have a cup to win and I’m pretty sure it’s not one you find in a bar.”
“You can find it in various bars, actually,” James replied.
“Shut up, smart ass,” Kara laughed, “You know what I mean.”
James laughed again, “We’re going to be great roommates, which reminds me; can you come to the arena? I’m not sure where exactly your house is, I’m still new here and I’m still learning will certain places are, so could you come to the arena and let me follow you?”
“Yeah, just give me like twenty minutes.”
“Alright, meet me in the player’s garage. I’ll let security know that you’re coming.”
“They know me from bringing Rhys and Francesca to and from the arena, so we’re fine.”
“Duh,” James laughed, “I’ll let you go. See you in a little bit.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Take your time,” James reassured her, “I’ve got all day.”
Kara said her goodbye and climbed up off of the floor. Looking in the mirror, she didn’t like what she saw. For the first time in a long time, she cried as she looked at the reflection staring back at her. The mascara she wore the night before was smeared around her eyes that were now red and puffy from her crying herself to sleep on the cold hardwood floor.
Slowly removing her clothes from the night before, she threw them in the hamper near the bathroom door and stood under the hot spray of the shower praying that somehow the hot water could wash away her guilt. Quickly towel drying her hair before throwing on a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie with her Ugg boots that Anne had bought her from the kids for Christmas, as she pulled on the black boots she felt like she walking on the kids’ lives and tearing the Adams family apart.
Climbing into the door of her Ford 500, a graduation present from her parents, she sped off down Carson Street into the city of Pittsburgh as she entered the Armstrong Tunnel onto Forbes Avenue before she rounded the corner to the Consol Energy Center. She saw James behind the beige fence as she got closer to the guard shack.
“Kara, where are the kiddies,” Sue, the escort asked as Kara rolled down her window.
“With their parents,” Kara smiled, “I’m here to have someone follow me to my place. James Neal needed a place to live and since I need a roommate I told him that he could live with me”
“That’s sweet,” Sue smiled, “I’ll tell him to meet you right here, so you don’t have to come all the way in.”
Kara was replying to a text from Max asking her if she was okay when she heard a car horn from behind her, and she saw James waving in the window. She waved back and signaled for him to follow her as she exited the parking lot going back the way she came. When they arrived at her apartment, James felt stupid for making her literally drive five minutes to the arena.
“I feel like a dumbass.”
Kara laughed as she showed him how to work the locks on the door, “Why?”
“I made you drive five minutes for nothing; it’s a lot closer than I expected it to be.”
“Max lives about ten blocks down, so he’s close if we ever need him for something,” Kara said as she opened the door to her apartment.
“I like this already,” James said removing his shoes at the front door before shrugging out of his jacket, “It’s really nice.”
“As soon as I saw it, I had to have it,” Kara replied, “I didn’t even think about how rent would take me broke.”
“Which reminds me,” James mumbled reaching into his pocket for his wallet.
Kara looked on curiously unsure of what he was doing. James unfolded the small piece of paper and handed it to him, “What is this?”
“It’s a check for this month and next month’s rent.”
“James,” Kara sighed, “I can’t accept this.”
“I wanted to talk to you about this whole splitting the rent thing,” James replied.
“I’ll buy all of the groceries and split half the rent and take two of the utilities if you pay the other half and two of the utilities as well.”
“Kara,” James said, “I’m paying for everything.”
“James,” she began.
“Shut up,” he replied smiling, “You need to find a job and I don’t want you worrying about everything, just let me do this.”
“I can’t let you do that and I’m not going to let you do that either.”
“Craig was right, you’re stubborn.”
“I’m not stubborn, it’s just I feel guilty with you paying for everything.”
“Kara, I make enough money that I could buy this place flat out if I wanted to but please just let me pay for this. I know that you’re struggling and until you find a job, just please let me find everything.”
“James,” Kara began.
“I’m not taking no for an answer.”
Kara rolled her eyes as James extended the check towards her, “I’d sleep better knowing you took it.”
“Fine,” Kara replied, “Are you happy?”
James smiled as Kara told him to follow her down the hall and she showed him the bedroom that was now empty since Amanda had moved out a couple of days prior. Kara looked around in complete shock; Amanda hadn’t told her she was gone.
“When can I move in,” James asked, “I don’t have a lot of stuff here just clothes that I brought with me. I have to have my stuff shipped out here.”
“You can move in today if you want to. I don’t have anything going on and I don’t have to watch the kids until later on this week and I could help you move if you’d like.”
“I still have one night left at the hotel. How about I move in tomorrow?”
“That’s fine; I’ll give you a key in case I’m not here. I have a couple of interviews tomorrow. I was supposed to have them today but I had to reschedule them because the person who was supposed to interview me is sick.”
“That sucks,” James replied sympathetically, “I really wish you the best of luck.”
“Thanks,” Kara smiled as her phone vibrated signaling she had a text message.
James’ phone rang and he excused himself stepping out into the hallway. Kara felt comfortable around James and she could tell that they were going to be good friends. James was a nice guy and she could tell he would fit in well with the team.
Kara pulled out her phone from her pocket and rolled her eyes when she saw the blue box with Craig’s name on it and the text message underneath.
Meet me for dinner tonight, we really need to talk.
Kara deleted Craig’s response without even reading what it said and sighed when James came back in the house.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, that was my mom; she’s coming to see Pittsburgh tomorrow and she may be bringing my brother with her.”
“That’s great; just let me know in the morning.”
“Thanks for offering me a place to stay, I appreciate it.”
“It’s no problem,” Kara smiled as her phone rang.
“Sounds like someone is trying to reach you, I’ll see you later.”
“Bye,” Kara replied as James left and she pulled her phone out of her pocket and answered the phone.
“Kara,” Craig said as soon as she answered the phone.
“Unless you need me to watch the kids or one of them is sick and I need to be there. Please don’t call me,” Kara said ready to touch the end call button on her phone.
“KARA,” Craig shouted, “Please don’t hang up, just hear me out.”
“Craig, I don’t want to hear you out. You have no idea what it’s like feeling the way I do right now. I violated everything that I have ever set for myself. I was raised better than this. I will not continue to do what we’re doing.”
“Kara,” he sighed.
“If all you’re going to say is my name then you can fire me right now and stay out of my life forever. I love your children with everything I have but seriously, if letting them go means that I won’t hurt them, I’ll do it.”
“I could never let you break their hearts like that, they’d be devastated.”
“They’d be devastated,” Kara laughed, “Craig, how do you think I feel right now knowing that if Anne finds out, I won’t be able to see the kids anymore. I’m not even going to have this conversation with you right now.”
“Let me in.”
“Let you in where?”
“I’m outside right now talking to you standing in front of the door, please let me in.”
“No,” Kara replied remaining firm, “You are not coming in here.”
“I’ll have the star struck old lady next door let me in, you know what a big fan she is.”
“Craig, enough, please just leave me alone.”
Kara jumped when she felt someone wrap their arm around her waist, “You know I can’t do that.”
Kara turned around and slapped Craig as hard as she could, “Why are you acting like this? This is so unlike you.”
“I can’t explain the way you make me feel, you make me feel like Anne did when we first met. When I’m around you, it’s like we’re the only people in the world and I hate being this way but damn Kara, you’re making me crazy.”
“Craig,” Kara whispered putting her head down, “You don’t mean that.”
“Yes, I do,” he replied grabbing her hand and putting it to his chest, “Do you not feel how fast my heart is beating right now. You drive me crazy.”
Kara didn’t even have time to register what she was doing as she leaned up and pressed her lips to Craig’s. Craig wrapped his arms around her waist as he pushed her against the wall.
Words couldn’t describe why Kara decided to take matters into her own hands, she knew the consequences of her actions but Craig said all of the right things and pretty much charmed his way into her pants. Kara pushed Craig towards her bedroom and grabbed the picture of her with the kids and placed it face down. She already felt guilty and she knew that if she had let that picture face her, it’d make her guilt even stronger.
Craig hissed as Kara lowered herself down on him and rocked her hips back and forth as he claimed her lips with his again. Pushing her hair out of the way, Craig started sucking on her neck.
Kara let out a scream of pleasure as she felt she was reaching her peak before she felt herself tighten around Craig with him following soon after her. Kara rolled off of Craig and faced the wall. She couldn’t bear to look at him right now but that changed when he put his arms around her and kissed her bare shoulder.
“God, Kara,” he whispered, “I’m sorry if I make you cry yourself to sleep at night, that’s not what I want at all.”
Kara turned so she was facing him and noticed the silver band on his left hand. She closed her eyes hoping it would go away but it didn’t and she couldn’t help but let a stray tear fall as Craig moved closer to her.
“Please, don’t cry,” he whispered hugging her to him.
As Kara cried into Craig’s chest, she couldn’t help but think of something she had read long ago in a book where a woman was having an affair with a married man, “You can leave that ring on your finger. I'm a sinner, you're the winner, and I am too.”
She couldn’t help but wonder if she had dug her own grave by starting something that would end badly if her and Craig weren’t careful. Going against everything she swore she wouldn’t do within the last week suddenly felt right to her because laying in Craig’s arms was the best feeling in the world and quite frankly that scared her.