Home > A Sea of Smoke

A Sea of Smoke
Author: Karen Lynn

CHAPTER 1

THURSDAY, WEEK 1

 

KRISTEN/LOGAN

I am not going crazy, I am not going crazy. The words haunted Kristen, playing over and over in her head until she was too weary to resist any longer. Still it wasn't sinking in. She was losing her mind.

Five months since she left New York with Logan and things were going from bad to worse, the life she loved long gone. Her friends, her job, Jake—all blurry, fading memories. Ones she found impossible to forget.

Miami was her home now. The blazing orange and red sunsets, amazing crystal clear aquamarine ocean, snow white beaches—all at her fingertips.

If it is such a magnificent dream life, why are my nerves always on edge?

The whole pregnancy thing? It was out of control. Almost six months pregnant now. It was supposed to be a fascinating turning point, a time to enjoy a rosy glow and shiny, flowing hair. Yet, in what was supposed to be the happiest time of her life, she was drowning in boredom.

On the rare occasions she set foot outside of the condo, the constant gaping and groping by strangers repulsed her. Everyone was so damn anxious to catch a feel of the baby bouncing around in her stomach. Why couldn’t they understand what a terrible invasion of privacy it was? Or how it was slowly destroying her already fragile confidence. The inevitable truth? It had been ages since she was proud of her body. She was fatter than ever, would only get bigger, slower, clumsier, and her self-esteem would take a rapid detour down the toilet.

The positive parts? Oh yes, an eternity of leisure time. No longer having to work should’ve been revitalizing. Certainly it played a major role in her speedy recovery from the hemorrhage disaster in New York. But the unfortunate part about her increasing strength was it helped her function. And when she could function, she could think clearly. And when she could think clearly, it increased the depression—an infuriating vicious cycle.

Then again, Logan always says I think way too much.

It would be hysterically funny if the endless vomiting bouts would stop for just one minute. She’d even crack up laughing if she wasn’t so weak and shaken.

Yet there were some bright spots in the bleak horizon they called her new life. In an amazing turn of events, Logan had become her savior. Who could have imagined he would keep his promise to take care of her? At least for the most part. His physical presence couldn’t be denied. But emotionally and mentally? That was another story. He was nonexistent.

Three months and counting until the baby was due. Then her life would be filled with bliss and happiness. Or so they said.

Maybe, just maybe, if she wasn’t so damn lonely she could believe it.

 

 

* * *

Life was one long, hopeless journey to nowhere, until one miraculous day, the frequent movement and kicking in her belly started and everything changed.

“Logan... I felt kicking! Oh my god!” she screeched with excitement, scrambling to him when he failed to respond. “Logan, did you hear me?”

It didn't seem to faze him. Sprawled out on the couch, he was too engrossed in his laptop to give a damn.

“Yeah…that's great.” His muttered response was more of a brush-off than a genuine show of interest.

Kristen felt like a lightning bolt struck her chest, wiping out the glow in her cheeks. This was her unique moment of bliss and he was deflating it.

“You don't even care, do you? What's wrong with you?”

His face set in an annoyed frown.

“I hate you!” she screamed, fleeing from the room.

I’m married to a monster! What if it is his baby? He doesn’t even care enough to fake an interest. Flinging herself sideways onto the bed, she curled up in a ball, sobbing without mercy.

Confused once again, Logan finally sat up. This whole baby thing—the unpredictable mood swings and crying fits—was really beginning to wear him out. He wanted to be excited, but the truth was he wasn’t stimulated by it. Whenever possible, he put on an act simply to avoid another one of her meltdowns. But he was constantly horny as hell, and fighting her didn’t cure it.

He approached with caution, sighing loudly. “Kristen, let me feel it.”

Her face lit up instantly. She stopped sobbing and propped her head on an elbow. “Really?”

Logan didn’t try to hide his amusement. “Yes, really. Come on, turn over.”

Her giggles grew louder as she flipped over, waiting for the kicking to start up again. He sat down next to her, his hand suspended in space above her stomach.

“You're not gonna feel it from there!” She grabbed his hand, placing it on her stomach.

They sat waiting. Nothing. Then a couple of sporadic mild jerks followed by a series of violent kicks hit his hand.

“Oh shit! I felt that!” His face went from red to chalk white, his eyes filled with a mix of exhilaration and alarm. He couldn’t jerk his hand away fast enough.

“Cool, huh? Don't worry, he's not gonna bite you!” Amused by his anxious expression, her face flushed with delight.

“He…you mean she.” He choked on the word.

This was the first time he had actually shown a preference, or any concern at all for that matter. She welcomed the change in attitude with a huge smile. “We'll find out when we go for the ultrasound.” She hurled herself up, falling into his lap.

“When's that?” A doomed expression took over his face.

“Monday morning!” Feeling rejuvenated, she wrapped her arms around his neck.

Without another word, he broke free, brushed her cheek with a kiss, tripping over his own feet in his rush to return to his laptop.

 

 

SATURDAY

 

KRISTEN

An amazing positive energy overwhelmed her every time she reflected on the life blossoming inside. Becoming more and more consumed by it, she read everything she could get her hands on regarding the miracle of childbirth. With every word, an unexpected rebirth of sorts made her life truly worth living.

Then the kicking drastically intensified and it became very clear it wasn’t going to diminish. On a roll, the baby’s favorite time of attack was late at night when she ached for sleep. As soon as exhaustion became a way of life, Logan began distancing himself. She could taste his boredom, smell his growing repulsion, read his thoughts: Kristen is no longer sexy, and the worst was yet to come.

The lame excuse about his super hectic workload failed to convince her. But since she was too tired to argue, he simply disappeared more often. And there she was alone, sinking deeper and deeper into the dark hole of depression.

She asked herself why—hadn’t he given her everything she needed? There was no longer stress from work, because she didn’t have to. He set her up, nice and cozy, in this beautiful Miami Beach condo, a few feet from the ocean.

She wanted to feel guilt, but couldn’t.

Instead, she concentrated on finding a solution. There were always art classes. At last, she could be around other artists and express herself through creativity like she used to. But with her back on fire all the time, there was no way she could stand in front of the easel for hours.

And the worst part of all? The days when there were friends to confide in were long gone. While Logan was running around with Nick working, or whatever he called it, staying out more and more, later and later, she could amuse herself by viewing her own deteriorating reflection in the mirror.

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