IMPULSE: Companion to The PULSE Series

IMPULSE: Companion to The PULSE Series by Deborah Bladon Read Free Book Online

Book: IMPULSE: Companion to The PULSE Series by Deborah Bladon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Deborah Bladon
reason is clear. It's not only clear; it's fucking wearing a suit.
     

Chapter 8
     
    "Jessica," I scream her name as I charge through the door of our apartment. I went to the bar next to Axel after Sasha made me feel like a goddamn nothing. I had three bourbons and now I'm in prime argument mode. I've had to defend myself time and time again in this relationship. I've never cheated on Jessica. I've come clean with everything. Now it's her turn.
    I'm greeted with sullen silence. I toss my suit jacket on the couch. My thumb traces a quick path over my smartphone's screen. I pull up my text messages. There isn't one response to the six text messages I've sent her in the past hour. Wherever the fuck she is right now, it's obvious I'm her last priority.
    "Nathan?" Her voice enters the space before I even notice that she's opened the door. She couldn't have been more than a few feet behind me when I walked into the building. "Why are you standing in the dark?" She flips the light switch on and two cool, pale ceiling lights flicker on.
    "I just got here." I don't turn to look at her. I swear I'll fucking lose it if she's standing there in her chef's jacket. If she lies to me about being at work I'll move out. I can't stomach the thought of another man kissing her. How the hell am I supposed to act if she's been fucking some other guy's brains out?
    I hear her drop her purse on the table next to the door. The sharp rattle of her keys hitting the wood follows. "Did you work late?"
    I don't want to be interrogated right now. "No." It's blunt and direct. It's a sign of how frustrated I am right now. "Did you?"
    There's a heavy sense of hesitation in the air. I can hear her labored breathing. "No," she says quietly.
    She doesn't expand and I have to grab the edge of the couch to steady myself. Christ, I love her so much. My heart is literally caving in right now. Don't let this be my reality. Please let there be some logical explanation for why she has been missing work. I need to hear that Sasha didn't actually see Jessica kissing anyone. I want a redo of this entire night.
    "How was work?" I push the question out. I do it because I need a place to start. It's one of the fundamental principles I learned in law school. Give the defendant just enough rope to hang themselves.
    I hear her shuffle her feet. I can't tell if she's pulling off her shoes or putting them back on so she can race back out the door. Jessica can't handle confrontation. If there's a fight, she's going to look for the nearest exit. I've worked hard with her, over the course of the past year, to push back on her natural instinct to race out of the room when we have an issue. Right now, I'm scared that if she runs, I may never see her again.
    "Jessica," I say her name as much to gain her attention as to quiet my own raging confusion. "I asked you a question."
    "I know." Her voice is low and edgy. I can hear the apprehension in it.
    I flip around on my heel. It shouldn’t be this complicated. I shouldn’t have to ask her the same question twice before I get a definitive answer. It's a simple question. I just want an answer. "I…" my voice halts as I look at her. She's wearing one of my t-shirts under her black cardigan. The jeans she's wearing are rolled up at the hem but there's no mistaking that she stepped in a few puddles on her way home. Her hair is a matted mess. "Jessica." I reach for her but she takes a step back.
    "You went to Axel." She nods as she says the words. "Sasha told me you were there."
    She had a warning. She knew I'd be waiting for her with a mind filled with questions. "I was looking for you." I work hard to keep my voice even.
    Her eyes scan my face. "I didn't feel well today."
    "Are you sick?" That question is meant to be asked with compassion. It doesn’t contain any of that when it leaves my lips. If it sounds as accusatory to her as it does to me, she's going to shut down.
    She doesn’t speak. Her head just drifts thoughtlessly from

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