Battle-Hardened, War Weary Ch. 03byMimiRose©
18 Days Later...
Kali glanced at her gold Movado watch to check the time. It was fifteen minutes before eight o' clock. She knew that she should've been at the Tolley residence by now. She had left her home at a reasonable hour because she knew that it would've been rude of her, if she would've shown up to the party late.
However, the New York City public transportation didn't care about her need of being punctual. While she was traveling on the first train, the World Trade Center-bound 'E' train, there were several unexpected stops along the way. An incident had occurred earlier in the day, which required the NYPD to intervene and it caused for several delays. So now, a twenty-six minute trip was altered into a forty-minute trip.
Once she was off of that train, she had ridden on two more trains before she arrived into the borough of Manhattan. She had to take a bus afterwards. Luckily the one bus she did have to ride on, she was able to sit down in an unoccupied seat. She sighed in relief and silent thanked the heaven, because she was able to sit down and rest her feet. As she sat on the felt-covered seat, there was a dull sense of discomfort inside of her bum.
When Dr. Katrina Mora checked her messages off of her answering machine, one of the messages that she listened to belonged to her best friend, Kali Richardson. In the message, Kali asked her friend if she had any time, during that day, to give her an examination. She stated that she was not feeling well at the moment. Katrina then noticed her friend's tone of voice. For Katrina, she thought her friend sounded sick. Immediately, she called Kali and informed her friend to show up to the office around noon. She listened to Kali thank her profusely. She noted her friend's voice. She sounded grateful, but underneath it, there was a sense of scariness. Once she was off of the phone with Kali, Katrina sighed as she placed the phone's receiver back on the hook. She gazed down at the framed picture that she kept on her desk. The picture that was encased was one of Katrina and Kali, when they were children. They were ten years old in the picture. The picture was taken by Kali's grandfather.
She sighed once again. "Fucking Ryan" she groaned.
Noon has now approached. Katrina received a page from Lulu, an assistant who works the front desk in the patients' waiting room. She called the front desk and spoke with the young woman. Lulu informed the doctor that Kali was waiting in an examination room.
"How does she look?" Katrina asked.
"She looks like shit" was Lulu's answer.
Katrina entered the examination room. She turned from the closed door to see Kali sitting on the examination bench. She noticed the small bruising on Kali's left cheek and how her left hand was curled and was held by her right hand.
"Oh my God Kali, what happened to you?" Katrina said to her, feeling concerned. She walked over to her friend. She gently touched at Kali's face.
Kali shrugged her shoulders, shook her head in disbelief, sighed and then glanced down at her lap. Katrina clasped her friend on her right shoulder, in act of consolation. She lifted her head and stared at her friend while a pair of tears drifted down her cheeks. She let out a sigh. "Ryan" was her answer.
Katrina had let out an expletive. She took a glance at her friend. She noticed how dim her friend's violet eyes were. She recognized the look. It was an expression of hopelessness. She had first seen the look, when she was an ER doctor, working out of King's County Hospital. She saw the same expression of numerous women, who she treated while their abusers stood by the doorways of the examination rooms.
"You need to have that son of a bitch thrown into jail!" Katrina suggested to Kali as she walked over to her rolling stool. She sat down on her stool and rolled the chair over to her workstation. She pulled a few blank forms from a file holder and a pen from the breast pocket of her lab coat. She was silent as she filled out the pages. "Do you want me to test you for any STD's, STI's and HIV?" she asked after a while. Now, she was in her 'Doctor Mode'.
"No" Kali whimpered.
"Do you need a Plan B pill?" Katrina asked.
"Judging by the way you are holding onto your wrist, your wrist is bothering you. Do you want me to look at that injury?"
"Yes," Kali whimpered.
"Is there anything else that needs to be look at?"
Kali nodded her head and then a whimper escaped her mouth. "Yeah."
"Okay, what is it?" Katrina inquired as she wrote on a page. There was silence. Katrina turned her attention to Kali. "Okay, what is the injury?"
Kali let out a sigh and then used her right, index finger to point to her right buttock. Katrina's dark brown eyes followed her finger's journey. Once she figured out what type of injury Kali was suffering from, she let out a growl.
Kali stared at her friend. "I'm sorry, Katrina."
Katrina gave her best friend a glance before going to back to filling out her paperwork. "So am I" she mumbled under her breath.
Kali allowed her friend to treat her injuries without an iota of hesitation. As Katrina did her work, both women conversed. They talked about a range of topics, in hopes of getting rid of the tension that was circulating throughout the room. Eventually, the topic of her last night with Ryan was brought to the surface.
Katrina knew everything that was going on between Kali and Ryan Whittler. Kali reluctantly told her friend, a few months into her 'relationship' with Ryan. On a night, during the wee hours of morning, Katrina received a call from Kali. Her friend needed her help, ever since she was a doctor. Katrina, without any hesitation, quickly made her way over to Kali's house. Using a spare key that was hidden on the lentel of the front door, she let herself inside of the house. She founded Kali inside of her bedroom, sitting in her bed. Katrina had taken a gander at the blood that saturated a portion of the mattress, the blankets and on her friend. She knew what was wrong.
Katrina had taken her friend to a nearby hospital, where she was examined and then was informed by the treating physician that she suffered a miscarriage. Kali wasn't aware that she was pregnant.
"Did you look for the video tape while you were there?" Katrina asked.
"Yes, I couldn't find it. I looked in his closet and in his nightstand drawers. The tape isn't in there. But, I do think he has the video tape in this secret room that is in his bedroom. But, he keeps the door locked."
"The tape could be in that room. Or... the video tape isn't a video tape anymore" Katrina informed her.
"What do you mean?" Kali asked as she looked over her left shoulder at her friend.
"We live in a digital age, honey. Nobody uses VCR's anymore—
"Well, I do" Kali interjected.
"With the exception of you, no one uses VCR's anymore. Everybody is buying DVD players now. People are swapping out their VHS tapes for DVD's. Ryan probably has taken the footage from that old video tape and has converted all of that info onto a DVD. While you were going through his shit, did you happen to come across a DVD in an inappropriate place?" Katrina asked.
Kali thought back to her search process. She remembers not coming across a DVD.
"No, there wasn't a DVD" she said to her friend.
"Well, it must be inside of that locked room." There was a brief moment of silence. "Well, there's a bit of good news for you. He didn't tear anything to the point that you need surgery or stitches. There is slight tearing to your anal cavity, but it's the same type of tearing that comes from straining while you're pooping."
"Good, can you just fix it please?"
Katrina did her best to help Kali with her injuries. Her best friend concluded that her wrist wasn't broken or fractured, but was sprained. Katrina wrapped the injured limb with two rolls of Ace bandages. Then she had written a prescription for a low-quality painkiller. For the bruises, Katrina suggested for her friend to start wearing make up to cover up the bruising on her face and to wear turtleneck sweaters to cover up the bruising on her neck.
"Kali, please consider pressing charges on that asshole. He belongs in a jail cell" Katrina told her.
"I'll think about it."
"HELLO KALI RICHARDSON!" Cossette Tolley greeted Kali after she opened the front door.
Cossette let out a high-pitched squeal that could've cut glass. She ran up to Kali and placed her in an embrace. The exuberant woman gave Kali a hug that was so tight that her breathing was temporarily restricted. Even though the brunette beauty was petite, she was very strong.
"Cossette, darling, I cannot breathe" Kali gasped.
The woman released Kali from her clutches. "Oh," Cossette gasped. "I am so sorry! I tend to get too excited sometimes!"
"Cossette, I remember how excited you can get," Kali told her, which made the 5'4 woman laughed enthusiastically.
A stiff, freezing wind blew at the women. "Oh, let's go inside and get out of this cold!"
Cossette Tolley was a former classmate of Kali's, when she was a student at the private prep school. Kali and Cossette had a friendship that was founded more on necessity than from genuine interest. Both girls were bullied, starting from elementary school to their final year of middle school, by mutual classmates. They realized that there was safety in numbers, so they kept each other's company. Then, during the summer break before their freshman year started, Cossette and her family moved out of New York City to live in Charlotte, North Carolina. But, Cossette always remained in contact with Kali.
A few days ago, Kali received an invitation, via email letter, from Cossette to attend this holiday party. The party was being held in her parents' home and was hosted by her mother, the brainchild for this function. The party also served as a "Welcome Back/Housewarming Party" for the couple, who recently moved back to New York City.
Cossette had taken Kali's coat and gave the item to the hired coat check woman. "Kali, hubba-hubba, you look gorgeous!" commented Cossette as she stared at Kali.
Kali gave her outfit a brief glance and then stared at Cossette. "Ummm, thank you, Cossette" she said to the woman. "You look wonderful tonight as well."
Kali did believe her friend looked beautiful. Her onyx-colored hair was styled in a French roll in the back of her head with an array of curls up top. The makeup on her face was subtle. She wore a knee-length, cocktail dress that was a sapphire-blue and had a scoop neckline. On her feet, she wore a pair of silver, high heeled sandals that Kali thought was inappropriate to wear in this type of weather.
Still feeling self-conscious about the dress, Kali glanced down at the dress again.
The outfit that she chose to wear that night was an item that originally belonged to her grandmother. Kali found the dress stored in the back of the closet that was attached to her grandmother's old bedroom. At first, she thought her grandmother must've forgotten to pack the dress away, during the moving process. Then she realized that the dress was too small for her grandma's 176-pound frame. She realized that her Mama had left the dress for her.
She thought the dress was too beautiful to wear for just any function. The dress was the color of red and was knee-length with three-fourth of a quarter-inched sleeves. The dress was made from silk and the material clasped onto every one of Kali's curves. There was a boat-neck collar that kept the atrocities that marked her flesh hidden. She wore a pair of flesh colored, stockings on her legs while a pair of black, and patent-leather 'peep toe' shoes on her feet. She straightened out her hair and then styled her hair with big, bouncy curls in a vintage 1940's way. Inspired by the upcoming holiday, she pinned a poinsettia and mistletoe to her hair. She kept her makeup neutral.
"I didn't know whether or not if I should've worn this dress tonight. I thought it was a bit risqué to wear. But, I couldn't find anything—
"No, no, you look great! You look absolutely gorgeous!" claimed Cossette. "You must tell me where did you buy this dress?"
"You're going to have to ask my grandmother that question. It was originally her dress."
"Oooh, so it's a vintage dress, which makes it even more fashionable. So, how is your grandmother, by the way? How does she like Georgia?" Cossette inquired as they walked out of the foyer.
"She likes Georgia, but I think she prefers New York City..."
The party was in full-swing, by the time Kali arrived to the residence. Each room of the large townhouse was occupied with party-goers. The Tolleys didn't spare any expense, when it had come to this party. For entertainment, there was an actual band that was playing music while their lead singer sung tunes from the 1940's. The food and drinks were provided by a catering service, which also provided the serving staff for the party. The entire house was decorated in such manner that it could give the Bloomingdales' store-front windows a run for their money. Just by watching everyone else have fun had caused Kali's mood to uplift.
Cossette volunteered herself as being Kali's tour guide for the rest of the night. She introduced Kali to numerous other guests, who were friends, family members or business associates to the Tolley family. Occasionally, the women were approached by the hired servants, who carried large silver platters and would ask the women if they wanted a hors d'oeuvre. Cossette politely declined while Kali would quickly snatch up a sample and thank the employee. She was starving.
"Oooh, Kali, aren't you hungry" claimed Cossette with a bright smile.
Kali blushed in embarrassment. She quickly chewed on the shrimp that was in her mouth. "I'm sorry, Cossette. I haven't eaten anything all day. I have been busy running around today and I haven't found the time to eat."
"Oh don't worry, Kali, you're doing what you're supposed to do at one of these parties, which is enjoy yourself!" Cossette told her, with her Southern twang prominent. "For a minute there, I just thought that I may not be the only pregnant one here—
During her case of surprise, Cossette let out a low gasp. Her bright blue eyes had gone wide in diameter. There was a blush to her cheeks and neck. Her right hand had shot up to her opened mouth and covered it. She glanced away from Kali and then returned her stare onto the taller woman.
Meanwhile, Kali felt like a bowling ball had managed to sink into the pit of her stomach. Her mouth had suddenly gone dry while a lump formed in her throat. She blinked her eyes a few times to keep from crying. She placed her right hand on her friend's left hand.
"Cossette... are you pregnant?" Kali whispered to her friend.
Cossette nodded her head frantically while squealing in glee. She ran into Kali's arms for an embrace. The taller woman wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and gave her a slight squeeze. "Kali, please don't tell anybody. It's a secret! I found out about the baby, two weeks ago and we haven't told anybody yet! We haven't even told everybody about us eloping! Promise me that you won't say anything?" Cossette asked her friend.
"I promise I won't say anything" Kali said to her friend, with her voice cracking. The woman parted, when they heard a few women shriek in horror. Both women looked in the direction of where the noise had come from.
Cossette and Kali quickly learned that the noise wasn't made in horror, but rather from awe. They both gazed at the small group of people who had entered the large living room. Leading the pack of individuals were Daniel 'Truck' Logan and Ryan Whittler. Standing a few inches behind Ryan, to his left, was Carlo Rossi, who was holding the hand of his girlfriend. Standing behind Ryan, on his right side, was Ryan's girlfriend Suzette Garrison.
Kali noticed that both Daniel and Ryan were gazing in their direction. It appeared as if the men were staring at both women, but Kali knew better.
'Shit, well, there goes my evening' Kali said to herself.
The group walked over in their direction while leaving a few women pleasantly stunned in their wake. The three men walked up to Kali and Cossette while the women of their group decided to lean against the doorframe that separated the dining room and the living room.
"Hey baby" Daniel announced as he strolled up to them. Kali watched as the tall, muscular man walked up to Cossette and slip the petite woman into his embrace. Cossette returned the act of affection and she applied a sweet kiss on his lips.
Kali felt her heart make a few hard beats against her rib cage.
Cossette and Daniel exchanged a few kisses before they separated from each other. Daniel then turned his attention to Kali.
"Hello Kali, it's been a long time since I've seen you! How have you been?" inquired Daniel, with a perfect mask of deceit on his face.
A strong source of guilt and shame had struck her at that moment. Here she was: hanging out with an old friend, who was pregnant and super-duper nice to her and she was secretly fucking her man. Then, there was the painful feeling of heartbreak that she was enduring. There was something about seeing her lover treating her as if she was a stranger made her heart hurt. Kali thought that her heart was going to fall out of its nest and drop into her stomach, where it will be burned by the acid that lays there. She so wanted to cry at that moment.
Kali forced a toothy smile on her lips. "I am feeling all right, Daniel. How are you doing?" She stuck out her hand, a silent request for a handshake. Daniel's hand reached out and shook her hand. At the first contact, there was a shiver tingling at her spine and a flashback of their last sexual encounter playing in her mind. She reluctantly let go of his hand. She swore to herself that she saw a glimmer coat his eyes.
"I'm feeling wonderful" answered Daniel. He gave his wife a heart-warming hug. "I am a blessed man."
"And that's because we're not sinning, but winning" Cossette added, cheerfully with a bright smile.
There was a loud cackling of laughter. Kali turned her attention to Carlo, who was indeed laughing.
'What an asshole' her mind muttered.
"Good evening Carlo" Cossette said to the short-stature man, with a tight smile on her face. She looked over to Ryan. Her eyes perused the tall man's physique before glancing back at his face. She offered Ryan another one of her tight-lipped smiles. "Good evening to you too, Ryan" she said in a monotone voice. It was evident that she was not pleased to see the both of the men at her parents' party.
"Good evening Mary-Anne, how are you feeling tonight?" Ryan greeted in his usual feminine lilt. "What a lovely little party that your parents have thrown. I would've been here sooner, except I didn't know what time this party started. After all, I didn't receive my invitation. It probably has gotten lost in the mail."
"Oh, you don't have to worry about that, ever since an invitation wasn't sent out" Cossette informed him.
Kali's eyebrows lifted from the amusement and pleasant surprise that she felt, once she heard Cossette's feisty statement. When they were kids, Cossette was meek and quiet.
'Well, a lot can happen in many years', her mind reasoned.
At this moment, Kali noticed that Daniel was now staring at her while his woman was speaking to Ryan. Kali's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. His eyes were warm and lit with recognition. She thought that he was trying to apologize for the charade that he had just pulled.
She adverted her eyes over to where Ryan and Carlo were standing. Her eyes glared at Ryan. He kept his attention on Cossette as she spoken to him. Tonight, he chose to wear a simple black suit and a white dress shirt underneath. On his feet was a pair of black Tom Ford. His bright red hair was styled in a ponytail. She noticed that he sported stubble on his chiseled face. His arms were folded across his chest. There was a grin on his face. His aura reeked of smugness. Unexpectedly, his eyes darted over to Kali. She watched his eyes scanned her curvy frame as she stood in front of him. Then a broad smile graced his lips.