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Arousing Consequences

By

Cam Johns































Copyright © 2016 by Cam Johns

Smashwords Edition

Edited by Codi Johnson of The Parchment

&

Sonya Jesus


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from copyright owner.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.







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Dedication:







For Kasib…. Thanks for giving me the confidence to go for it!















Chapter One



Choices. They can be simple or frivolous…or life altering. There are always helpful hints leading you to the right choice, but do we always accept them for what they are? I certainly haven’t. I made a choice. A choice I made after my father died that led me to make major decisions, which in turn, brought undesirable characters into my safe life.

Here I am, sitting in a courthouse waiting to face my monster. Not the hide under your bed imaginary monster, but the destroy your life kind of monster. Six months ago, I would have never imagined being here. At this time, staying within my safe comfortable limits was more important than being hurt once again.

Hurt that came from those “safe” choices. Choices that everyone makes, never thinking it could ultimately affect the people they love.

Because of this, I find myself sitting here, on this cold wooden bench, nervously waiting for my name to be called. I just want today to be over so we can move on with our lives…he doesn’t even know-

“Karisma Washington?”

Oh, there’s the clerk. Standing, I think about what led up to today…the day that everything changed. Today, I face the consequences.

Breathe, Karisma. I thought to myself. Taking a long shower would relax me but I’m too anxious. Today marks day one of the beginning of my career at the top rehab facility in Seattle. I’m so excited! I’ve always wanted to help people, so being hired at Healing House is remarkable, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I’m elated to finally take steps forward instead of wallowing in my father’s death…murder.

“Babe,” Kevin says, sliding the door to the tub open, “you know you’re getting ready for work, not for us to go out. You can’t be late!”

“Ok, smart ass! I’m coming!” He is right, I’m always late. I slide one of the glass doors to the shower open and step out. I reach for my “Pretty in Pink” towel on the rack, but it isn’t there. Glancing behind me, I find him holding it and giving me an ‘I could eat you up right now’ look. “Oh, no! Don’t even think about it, buddy. Didn’t you just say I was late?” I try grabbing for the towel, but he pulls my wet body into his and stares at my nakedness.

“You’re lucky, Mrs. Matthews.” He puts his finger under my chin to lift my head.

“No, you’re the lucky one,” I say, giggling.

He plants a soft kiss on my forehead before handing me my towel.

I snatch the towel away from him and hold my right hand up in front of his face. “By the way, I’m missing some hardware on my finger... let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the Mrs. Matthews.”

“Hurry up and get dressed woman!” He slightly taps me on the butt before disappearing into the bedroom.

After a half hour of getting dolled up, I run downstairs to grab a bite to eat. Luckily for me, Kevin doesn’t mind cooking. I take a seat at the center island in the kitchen to enjoy my turkey bacon, egg whites and a cup of coffee that are already waiting for me. “Thank you, baby.” I lean over to kiss Kevin, who is already seated, awaiting my presence. “So…what’s work gonna be like for you today?” I ask, vigorously stuffing my face.

“You know…same ol’ BS. Mike is gonna get on my damn nerves as usual and I have a few business meetings. We may get the contract for the new condominiums downtown. That would definitely help out a lot.” Mike is his business partner, whom I’ve only met once…he seemed shady.

“That would be fabulous, babe. So, I assume if you do get it, you’ll be home late a lot again.” I say hesitantly.

“Don’t worry. It won’t be like last time.” He grabs my hand and caresses my knuckles against his lips. He must think that will disarm me.

Nope! “I should hope not, ‘cause you know I’m not going for that shit…this time.”

“Izzy,” he says, grabbing my chin to pull my face in his direction, “that’ll never happen again…promise.” I want to believe him, but I am truly not convinced.

“Okay…I gotta go.” I get up from the table and kiss him goodbye. His slumped posture shows his defeat. “I’ll call you later.” I grab my keys and I’m gone.

As I walk out the door, my mind replays the events of last year. It doesn’t help that I have a constant reminder in my garage. I walk towards the car Kevin got me then...when he was lying and keeping secrets. If it weren’t a BMW M3, I might have told him to kiss my ass. But it’s too beautiful and I’m not stupid.

While in my car, waiting for the garage door to rise, I scroll through my iPod and look for the perfect upbeat song to help me get pumped for my first day. I land on Turn up the Music and through the car in reverse. Kevin is standing at the end of the driveway, blocking my way. He walks over to the driver side and leans in with his hand behind his back.

“Now, wasn’t it you that said never leave each other angry?” he asks, showing off his convincing smile. Why can’t my fist be strong enough to knock him out?

“I’m not angry, just annoyed.”

“Well, quit all that!” He shows me the jewelry box from behind his back. “I got you a good luck charm for your first day. Was gonna give it you at breakfast but…”

“I hate you sometimes!” I say, rolling my eyes and reluctantly opening the box to see a charm bracelet. "You think you’re slick! This is beautiful Kevin.” I pull his tie towards me and give him a quick kiss.

“I'm glad you like it, boo. Now get outta here… you’re late!”

“Bye, babe!” I turn up the music, wave him a goodbye and speed off down the block.

The ride to work, thankfully, only takes thirty minutes. As I pull into the garage beneath the building, all of my earlier thoughts and nerves return.

I find a parking spot, jump out quickly and run to the elevator. It’s about to close but the man in the elevator thankfully sees me in time and holds the door for me.

“Thank you so much,” I say, winded from the sprint.

“No problem.” He extends his hand and introduces himself, “Jackson Turner.”

I shake his hand. “Hello, Mr. Turner. I’m Karisma Washington.” God that was rude. I didn’t even look him in the eye. “So…how long have you been working here, Mr. Turner?” I ask fixing my clothes and my harsh introduction.

“Since the beginning. I’ve never seen you here before. Just starting?”

After I’ve stopped fidgeting, I glance at him. Holy shit! My heart stops and my breathing follows. This man is glorious. His intimidating disposition towers well over 6 feet, and his very fit, muscular body looks perfect in his expensive black suit. He is definitely a sight to look at and he smells so delicious. His dark features contrast against his light, yet striking blue eyes. Women must throw themselves at him. Hell, if it weren't for Kevin, I might throw myself at him, especially if he keeps smiling at me like that. Lord, please help me! Temptation is real right now. Where are my words?

Jeez. Breathe, Karisma. After gawking for far too long, I admit, “It’s my first day. I’m kinda nervous.”

“Right, I thought the name was familiar. I read through your resume earlier,” he replies with an artful grin. “You do seem nervous, but you'll be fine. If anyone gives you trouble, just let me know.” He winks down at me with cleverness in his eye, making me blush.

Oh, goodness. Please stop tingling, I think, squeezing my legs together. In order to avoid temptation, I busy my mouth with talking, “I’ll keep that in mind. So…since you went over my resume, I take it you're one of my bosses?"

“Something like that, Miss Washington.” He pauses and shifts his head to the side. “So, I assume you’re headed to Margaret Weinstein’s office…? I’ll show you where that is.”

The elevator opens to the receptionist sitting behind a high, long, Cherrywood L-shaped desk with a marble countertop. The room is amply decorated with floors all made of a light-colored marble tile, floor to ceiling windows, gorgeous artwork on the walls, and a few comfortable white leather chairs off to the side. Everything looks so clean…and white.

I follow Jackson over to the receptionist who is frantically answering the phone that continuously rings. She’s a pretty, fair skinned woman, about twenty-five to thirty, with strawberry blonde hair. The glasses she’s wearing keep falling down her nose no matter how often she pushes them back up.

When she looks up and notices us she smiles. However, I’m not sure if she’s smiling to be polite or because Jackson is standing in front of her.

“Good morning, Mr. Turner,” she says with excitement in her voice.

“Hey, Julia. This is Karisma Washington. I’m gonna take her over to Margaret’s office if that’s ok?”

Her eyes dart over to me as she finally acknowledges my presence and offers me a fake smile. “Yes...Miss Washington,” she says as she fidgets with her clothing, “Mrs. Weinstein is expecting you.”

“Nice to meet you, Julia.” I extend my hand.

She barely shakes it but I don’t take it personally. It’s clear she has a thing for Jackson and she must think I’m competition. Little does she know, I've never really been interested in white men. Although I do understand the fascination with this particular guy. The man is ridiculously hot.

“See ya later, Julia,” Jackson says as he escorts me down the corridor.

We walk through large glass sliding doors that lead towards the corporate offices of the building.

“This is my office.” He points to his left, indicating a large room. Unfortunately, he is walking too fast for me to linger. “I think you may be a little late, so I’ll walk in with you. Hopefully, I’ll distract her enough that she doesn’t notice the time... Maggie can be a stickler.”

I follow his long legs quickly, trying to understand why he's going out of his way for me. Once there, a woman sits nervously behind her desk.

“Hi Karen,” Jackson says in a whisper, “I have Karisma Washington here to see Maggie.”

“She’s late, Mr. Turner,” she snaps back at him as if I'm not standing here.

“Don’t worry, I’ll handle her,” he replies gesturing towards Mrs. Weinstein's office.

She points at the door, giving us the go ahead. This whole situation is unnerving. As I admire his tall stature, Jackson politely knocks on the glass door, and waits for Maggie to signal us in.

“Good morning, Maggie.” Jackson walks calmly over and leans against the desk beside her.

“Good morning, Jackie. I see you brought Karisma here personally. Do you know each other?” she asks confused.

“No, I ran into her in the elevator. I hope you don’t mind, I kinda gave her a little tour.”

“Of course not. Don’t be silly.”

They continue to talk quietly. Thank goodness he helped out, I think to myself. I may have to buy him a drink one day.

Now that Jackson has put out the flames and I’m totally being ignored, I calm my butterflies. Mrs. Weinstein is a short woman with ivory skin and brunette shoulder length hair. Her thin, frameless glasses are hooked to a chain around her neck and well dressed in a black pencil skirt, white blouse and black pumps. The office is huge and well decorated, with floor to ceiling windows like the reception area. The walls are painted an eggshell white and two black leather club chairs face her desk while one large black leather couch is strategically placed to the left of the doorway. On her wall, she hung a plaques and photos while her desk was reserved for family photos.

After admiring her large office, I marvel at the sight of Jackson’s charm. He sits comfortably on her desk flashing that compelling smile. Jeez. Oh, here he comes…get it together girl.

“Okay Karisma, I’ll catch up with you later.” He stares through me with those blue eyes, shaking my hand, and sending tingles throughout my body again. What the hell was that? He leaves the office and his glorious scent follows.

Jackson

“She looks just like her.” I whisper to myself as I am leaving Weinstein’s office. Jackson, get it together man. She is not her… but she is definitely beautiful. Ugh, fuck it! I have to know more. I go right for my phone and call Jonathan.

“What’s up man?” my brother says, answering on the first ring.

“Listen, the new girl…Karisma Washington.”

“What about her? Michael checked her out already.” Of course, he had our head security analyst look into her.

“She’s hot man.”

“Finally, bro! You haven’t dated since…well, you know how long it’s been.”

“I know…can you just look into her a little more? I know you won’t let me ask her out until you do.”

“You’re damn right! I’ll let you know.”

Karisma

Focus Karisma, he’s gone…let’s try and keep the job.

“Nice to meet you, Karisma. Welcome to Healing House. I’ve heard great things about you, but let’s try to be on time from now on, okay? Jackson won’t be able to save you every time.” Maggie says, walking past me and closing her office door.

All I can do is shake my head in acceptance as she leads me to one of the black leather club chairs. Surprisingly, she takes the seat next to me. “Okay, so your duties here are simple. You will meet the current clients for follow-ups so we can evaluate your therapy practices and be trained with the Chief Executive Physical Therapist downstairs…you’ll love her. Eventually, you will work with the new clients as they come in. With me so far?” she asks finally taking a breather.

“Yes, absolutely,” I say nervously.

“Also, your assistant Physical Therapist is the only one allowed to wear scrubs or dress down here. You will wear professional attire, as you are now, at all times. Jackson wants this place to feel less like a hospital and more family-like. Therefore, you will talk with the client and make sure they’re comfortable, while instructing your assistant PT to perform his duties properly. Questions?” she states, being sure to keep constant eye contact with me.

This is Jackson’s center?

“Yes, I understand. Who is the lead PT I'll be working with?”

“Oh yes, that reminds me.” She walks to her assistant’s desk and picks up a plastic card. “Okay, you’re going to go down to the third floor and ask the receptionist for Alyssa Monroe. She will train you from here on out…or at least until you can handle things on your own. Miss Monroe is the best we have here so you'll be in great hands.” She then hands me an ID card with a magnetic strip. “This is your pass to use throughout the building. Be sure not to lose this because you will need it to get into certain areas of the facility. Understand?”

“Oh...okay. I got it.” Why does this woman make me so nervous?

“Okay.” We get up from our seats. “Have a good day, Miss Washington. Remember, be on time.”

“Yes, I will. Thank you.”

Walking out of her office, relief passes over me. I am so glad that’s over and I still have a job. As I’m passing Jackson’s office, I peek in to see if he’s there so I can thank him, but the room is empty. I fight the urge to have a better look and not keep this Alyssa waiting. I walk toward the elevator, waving goodbye to Julia who awkwardly waves back.

While waiting, I take the charm bracelet out of the box and put it on my wrist. It's silver with my initials and a few heart-shaped charms. It's so beautiful. Kevin has his moments, but usually after he fucks up. I'm just glad he's putting in the effort to make things better between us. My father always told me to follow my gut, but my gut tells me not to trust Kevin anymore.

Down on the third floor, I ask the receptionist for Alyssa Monroe as I’m told. In the meantime, I notice how different this floor is. It has a relaxed, laid back atmosphere, and looks much more like the entrance to an upscale gym, than a rehab center. It has a large juice and Healthy Choices snack bar, with an entertainment lounge used as the waiting area.

“Hi, you must be Karisma.” I turn abruptly to see a thirty-year-old woman with cocoa skin, intense dimples, beautiful long brown hair and short manicured nails.

“Yes, that’s me. You must be Miss Monroe?” I respond.

She stares at me briefly, causing an awkward silence.

“Everything okay?” I tilt my head to the side curious as to what has stumped her.

She extends her hand to shake mine “Lizzie…and yes…you just look like someone I knew once.”

I nod and smile.

“Anyway…welcome. I’ll be your go to girl for anything you need, so don’t hesitate to ask. Today is more of a tour day. First, I’ll show you around this floor of the facility and familiarize you with all of this beautiful equipment we have. Even though you won't be the one using the equipment with the client, you should know how they work and its purpose.” She pauses to make sure I understand.

“Got it.”

“Everything here is state of the art and up to date so you shouldn’t have any problems. It's always best to get to know each client personally, like they're a member of the family and still make sure the assistant does the work. Last, we’ll meet my final client of the day, Jennifer. For the rest of the week you will learn from my appointments until you feel you’re ready to start on your own. Then I’ll just assist you where needed. We’ll have an assistant Physical Therapist ready for you then. All good?”

Whew…what a mouth full. “Sounds like a plan, Lizzie.”

“Excellent.”

After a few hours of being shown around, using the equipment and introducing me to colleagues and her assistant PT, we stop in the cafeteria to get a bite to eat before her last client. The cafeteria is immense, taking up an entire floor of the building, and it offers different options to choose from. It reminds me of a food court at a mall, but bigger.

“So Karisma, tell me more about yourself. Where did you go to school?”

“I went to UMass for my Bachelor of Science and UW for my master’s. I stayed local to be closer to my family…well, my over the top mother, really.”

“And your dad?”

“He passed away 3 years ago.” I fight the urge to tell her he was murdered because it only leads to more questions and I'm not prepared to answer.

“Oh God! I'm sorry, Karisma.”

“It's getting better now. I'm just glad my boyfriend was around…my mother can be a tool.”

We both giggle.

“I hear ya,” she says.

“What about you? What school did you go to?” I ask.

“I took the easy way and did everything online. It pays when you know someone, right? I just needed some type of degree. So, you’re not married yet…kids?”

“Nope, not yet. And no children.”

“Well, at least you have someone. It’s hard finding a good man to even date now.” She chuckles lightly.

“I see. So you’re single?”

“Yes! For too damn long!”

We both laugh.

"If you don't mind me asking…who’s the “someone” you know that got you started here?" I ask cautiously.

"Jackson Turner. He-"

I interrupt her, “Runs the place, I know."

She looks at me confused. "You met already?"

"We took the elevator together this morning …he helped out a lot."

"Oh, did he?" she says, raising an eyebrow.

I giggle uncomfortably. "Oh, don't tell me you're one of his fans too."

She bursts with laughter. "I see you've met Julia."


I nod.


"Not a chance. He’s more like family. Now his brother...hands off!"


We giggle.


“Okay, Karisma. Enough cacklin'. My client should be here soon, so let’s head back down.” She stands and I follow beside her. "By the way, Jackson and his brother own Healing House."



"Seriously?" He seemed so down to earth, to be rich.

"Yup," she says simply.

Once upstairs, Alyssa gets her client from the waiting area and walks us into her office. “Karisma, this is Jennifer. She’s here for a follow up. She injured her leg in a car accident a few months ago. She’s been coming here-”

“Oh, my god! Chill Lizzie,” the client interrupts. “What’s up, Karisma? Alyssa and I have actually been friends since high school, but you can’t tell by how she's talkin’ right now. How’s your first day?”

“Seems pretty cool here so far.”

“Well, now you’ve met me so it’s about to get even better.” We all laugh. “Let’s get started ‘cause I need to get this wig done,” she whispers, hitting her head.

“Girl, you crazy! Let’s go!” Alyssa says annoyed. After about an hour of working with Jennifer, Alyssa asks me to walk her to the front and make another appointment for her in two weeks.

“Girl, I hate working with Lizzie. She works me too damn hard. She and Claire will be the death of me. I don’t like sweatin’ like this…this shit is ridiculous. Well, unless it's from doing something else, ya ‘know what I’m sayin’?” She suggestively winks at me.

I smile uncomfortably, trying not to be too unprofessional.

“Oh girl! Lighten up. Damn. Don’t worry about it...you’re good.”

“Sorry, just don’t wanna cross any lines.”

Jennifer bursts with laughter, making me blush because I am uncertain of the joke.

“Kay, that’s all I do.” I smile, noticing she has given me her own nickname. We talk for a bit longer as we wait for Alyssa to come out of her office. Jennifer is tall, much taller than me, has to be at least 5’9” with short black hair, very thin but still has amazing curves. Her mocha skin is still glistening from her session.

“I see you two are getting a long,” Alyssa says, surprising us.

“Yeah, girl. Kay is cool.”

“Ohhh, Kay is it now?” She smiles and glances at me.

“Okay ladies, gotta go. I’ll see ya soon. Kay call me sometime…you have my number.”

“I’ll do that.” She and Alyssa share a hug before she waves bye.

“Okay, Karisma…or Kay,” she says with a smile, “you’re done for the day. We start bright and early tomorrow morning with my follow-ups. When you think you have the hang of it, let me know and I’ll schedule you new clients. Okay?”

“I got it. See you tomorrow, Lizzie.”

“Tomorrow.”

Lizzie whizzed by my new office pretty quickly on our tour this morning, so it took a few wrong turns for me to find it. It’s not that big, but it has a window and it’s big enough to fit my desk, bookshelf and two club chairs. Just as I grab my purse and jacket, my office phone rings.

“Karisma Washington’s office. How can I help you?” I quip, unsure of what is suitable, but happy that I have my own line. Yay!

“Karisma, I’ve been trying to reach you. How did your first day go?”

“Mom!” I say shocked. “How did you get this number?”

“You know I’m resourceful. You’ve been ignoring me all day.”

“Mother, I have not been ignoring you. I’ve been busy. My first day went well, but I was gonna call you when I got home.”

“Okay, well it’s late. You need to get home and cook before Kevin gets there. That’s why you’re not married yet! You need to put his needs before your own!”

Now I’m even more annoyed. “Okay, yup! Time to go…talk to you tomorrow, mother.”

“Wait, Karisma. Don’t you hang up on-”

I hang up abruptly.

That’s why I only call her once a day. She is very overbearing. Considering she evaded me when he was alive, I can only assume it’s because my father isn’t around anymore. I wish she would get a life of her own, instead of meddling in mine. It’s not like Kevin hasn’t asked me to marry him, but I don’t trust him like before. Therefore, my answer will continue to be ‘no’, unless that changes.

Kevin and my mom share a lot of things, but I doubt she knows everything about our relationship or else she wouldn’t be saying all those inappropriate snide remarks. Come to think of it, I don't understand when my mother and boyfriend became so close. She used to hate him, but that doesn’t really matter.

Once again, I grab my jacket and purse to walk out. On the elevator, I am so pleased with how the day went. I may have even gained two new friends, which is great, since most of my friends are back in Massachusetts. Jackson seems cool too, but he is my boss. I don’t think I’ll be seeing much of him…or at least I hope not. The elevator doors open and there he is looking handsome as ever. Why me?


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