When Katherine “Kate” leaves for her freshmen year at college, a grounded and stable piece of her is missing. She pushes away the ghosts of her past, determined to start her college life single, carefree and distracted.
Throughout high school Kate was reserved and shy, with little experience. Now, on her own, with little holding her back, Kate is ready to branch out. She bonds with a tight knit group of friends and even starts casually dating. What starts out as innocent flirting on the tennis courts slowly turns into a friendship and eventually something more complex. Reed comes into her life giving her the distraction she craves more than anything; but is she ready to give her heart away so easily?
Things get complicated when Kate’s ex-boyfriend and first love continues to pursue her. Kyle deeply regrets breaking her heart when he left for college the year before and is now on a mission to reclaim her. Kyle’s persistence and relentlessness is nothing short of obsessive. He will stop at nothing to win her back and prove his love.
Kate finds herself torn between her past and the unknown of the future. Her determination to stay distracted may just be her downfall or the beginning of something new and wonderful.
***For Mature Readers 18+***
Chapter 10 – excerpt Reed
Marco is in the bathroom getting ready for his date with Kate. We’ve bantered back and forth about her for weeks now. He knows I have a crush on her and that I think she’s hot, but he thinks that I’d just play her. That’s my usual story. I don’t bother to change his view because to be honest I’m not so sure myself that I wouldn’t play her. I know this is different I’m just not sure how yet. We’ve gradually gotten to know each other a little more every time we play tennis and I like it.
Marco comes out of the bathroom freshly showered and dressed up more than usual. He stops by my door and l look up at him waiting for the smartass remark I know he’ll make. “You jealous, yet?” I laugh and question myself on jealousy. It’s foreign to me and I can’t be sure.
“Nah, I’m not out of the race yet, man. There’s still time,” I say, egging him on. In all reality Marco’s a great guy and would probably be a good fit for Kate... but I’m not willing to completely step out of the way. I wouldn’t try to steal her from him or at least I don’t think I would. Then I remember the promise I’ve made to myself. I’ve had years of an extremely unhealthy relationship, commitment being the biggest issue.
“Dude, you’ve never even asked her out, so I’m not too worried,” he chuckles lightly. I just shake my head and chuckle too. I don’t bother to tell him that I just played tennis with her hours ago or that we play every Saturday.
I’m in the dining area playing poker with Quinn to the one side of me and Reese on the other. Things aren’t awkward with Quinn like I thought they might be, but she still flirts. I’ve come to realize though that is just how she is. Actually, it’s nice because I’m pretty sure Matt is taking an interest in her. It’s allowed me to ask her more about Kate too. Reese on the other hand is another story. It’s my own fault though. She’s made herself available to me and I’ve taken advantage in the past.
I hear the front door open and I notice a twitch in my breathing. Then I hear Marco’s voice echo through from the family room. I pick up a card and try to keep the escalated rhythm of my heart in check. When I hear her voice replying to Marco I practically bite through my cheek and draw blood.
I try to focus on my cards, but then I see Marco holding her hand leading her into the kitchen. Something foreign spreads through me and seeps into my veins. The urge to maneuver myself between them crosses my mind. Before I can linger too long on that thought Kate is out of sight and I feel Reese’s hand move to my thigh. I shift in my seat not all that uncomfortable with the contact. I glance over at Reese and she gives me a seductive smile while cocking one of her eyebrows. Her hand snakes further up and a jolt of excitement begins to press against my jeans. She’s hot and can turn me on, but there’s nothing else there. It’s a shitty thing to do, but she is always the one to come on to me. I just don’t turn her away. But I know that she likes me more than the quick fix I treat her like and so I don’t sleep with her. I don’t have any other attraction to her other than physical. Reese’s hand starts to snake up even further, but then Kate begins to walk back in with her coat off and a cup in her hand. My eyes hit hers and I take her in. Damn, she’s beautiful. Without a second thought I move Reese’s hand inconspicuously from me. I notice her disappointed look and pray that Kate didn’t notice.
When I gesture for her to sit across from me I pull my attention back into the game. The game continues and we all start to lay our cards out on the table. It’s quiet and then Quinn yells out, “Whatever!”
Kate starts laughing and it stops me from moving all my winnings to a pile in front of me for a split second. That’s a sound I want to hear more. The way her smile hits her cheeks only emphasizes her beauty. I look over at Quinn and say, “Better luck next time kid.”
When Quinn asks Kate how dinner was I raise my eyebrows in curiosity and I can see it makes her uncomfortable. Hmmmm… I think I like that. I’m still in the game.
We all stare at Kate wanting details of the evening. I’m hoping I’ll be able to hear that she had a shitty time and doesn’t want to go out with Marco again, but I’m sure Marco charmed the pants off her. He’s good like that and the thing is he’s genuine. The smart ones can always tell when you are playing them. Kate’s answer is simple and she doesn’t elaborate even though we all continue to stare. Then Marco makes his way in.
I start to deal the cards again for the next round of Texas Holdem and figure I might as well push my luck a little more. “How did the packing go?” I ask Kate while giving Marco a cocky look. Marco’s gaze goes from me to Kate with a look of shock.
“Good, I’m all set,” she answers with a shy smile. She avoids the questioning gaze from Marco and I almost feel guilty for making her feel distressed.
Marco shakes his head at me, but it’s playful. He one ups me quickly though when he moves in closer to Kate telling her they should play as a team since she’s never played before. Again, I feel this need to wedge myself right between them. I give him a look and he mouths, “Take that.” I shake my head and snicker before I mouth back to him, “Game on.”
I’m mesmerized watching how quickly Kate picks up on the game. She learns the terms and starts winning a few hands. She’s taking our money and we all give her crap. Marco and her joke that it’s beginners luck, but she’s a natural. While I don’t like seeing her with Marco, I can’t help but find myself more and more attracted to her. It’s not just a physical attraction either. It’s new and unfounded. The only other girl I’ve ever been attracted to more than physically is Jessica. Jessica always could create more than one feeling out of me and it usually wasn’t good. Thinking of her usually reminds me of the torment we put each other through. One thing that strikes me is that I don’t ever remember being mesmerized by Jessica. Or intrigued… and am I ever intrigued as I stare at Kate.
I have to force myself to stop staring at her. The way her hair hangs around her face framing it perfectly and showcasing her heart shaped lips is spellbinding. Every so often she looks at me and I make sure that my eyes are there to grab her gaze. I don’t ever remember a pull towards a girl like this before.
She rises from her seat to head up to the bathroom and when Marco asks her if she remembers where it is I hold my breath that she heads up alone.
There’s her laugh again and she answers, “Yes, I’ve only had a few this time.”
Once she’s out of the room Quinn looks at Marco with bright eyes and practically squeals out, “Soooo, how’d it go? Did you kiss her?” Shit. Kiss her. That never even crossed my mind. I practically kick my chair out hearing Quinn.
“It was great, but she can give you details if she wants. I don’t kiss and tell,” he says with a smirk looking at me. I just shake my head and chuckle. I grab my cup and get up deciding that I’ll show him how to play this game.
“Where you going?” Marco asks.
“Refill,” I say, but he continues to eye me skeptically and I show him my empty cup as I walk out of the room into the kitchen to head up the back staircase. Along the way I toss my cup in the garbage.
When I get to the top I see Reese and another girl making their way towards the front staircase to head down. I stand outside the door waiting. I’m not really sure what I’m going to say or do, but I just want to push the limits with her a little further. I have to see if there is something more here. When I see her eyes I’ll know or at least that’s what I’m hoping.
She opens the door and I lift my head slightly looking at her through the strands of hair hanging in my eyes.
“Hey Kate,” I say, keeping my tone low.
“Hey,” She says with a small smile. Her eyes lock on mine and I feel it. She feels something just like I do. I know it. The lightness that rages through my body at the thought of her being closer to me is unlike anything. God, I want to kiss her.
“Did you enjoy your time alone with Marco?” I ask her with confidence and take a step closer to her. She squirms in the doorway, but it’s not out of fear or awkwardness. She’s enjoying this and its evident in her eyes and expression.
“Yea, are you enjoying poker with Quinn?” She says and I have to give her some credit on her quick come back. I scoff at this and run my hand through my hair.
I move closer with my arms on both sides of the doorframe to the bathroom. She’s trapped just like I want her. Her mouth is parted and her breathing has become erratic. I lick my top lip and move to the right side of her ear. My lips hover hairs away from actually touching her and then I whisper, “Hmm, is that what you think…” I let out a breath in her ear and slowly move her hair off her shoulder. “You can breathe, Kate; I’m not going to kiss you… yet.” Then I move around her into the bathroom and close the door forcing her all the way into the hallway.
Throughout the night I find myself eager to catch her gaze, but it seems she avoids it at all costs. I worry I’ve scared her off all together now. Maybe my bold flirting was too much. Even when I’m speaking to her during our card game she avoids my eyes. It hits me then that I’m going to have to take my time with her and try to figure her out. Hell, I don’t even know if she is really into Marco or not yet. I’m pretty sure Marco is on to me though. Does he realize that I’m not looking to play her? Every chance he has he is touching some part of her and it doesn’t happen without a mocking look in my direction.
After one in the morning Quinn and some of the other girls are ready to head out. Kate tells Marco that she is going to leave with them and the disappointment on Marco’s face peeks my attention. I’m glad he’s not taking her back to her dorm. Maybe that means he won’t kiss her. She heads back to the dining room and Marco is distracted talking with the others. I make my way back there to catch her alone. When she turns around to head back to the front I confront her. Her eyes flit past mine, but I see something in her expression that leads me to believe she feels something too.
“Have a good trip.” A small smirk spreads across my lips before I says, “I look forward to seeing you tan.”
“Thanks…” This time she shies away from my flirting and again I’m questioning my emotions for her.
“I’ll be at tennis the Saturday before school starts.” Instead I change my direction and hold my confidence like always.
“Ok, see you then. Bye Reed.” She seems skittish and eager to leave from the room, but our eyes lock one more time causing my pulse to race.
“Bye Kate.” As I say goodbye I regret not asking her out on a date and wish that I could have been the one to take her out before she heads home for break. It makes me wonder how different things could have been tonight… and down the road.
The girls head out and Marco trails behind with Kate. I move myself to the front room sitting on the couch with a perfect view of the porch. When Marco’s hands snake around her waist and he moves in closer I pause from breathing. The familiar feeling from earlier rises in me again. Jealousy? I’m guessing that’s what it is since I can’t be sure because I don’t recall feeling it before. It’s obvious when their lips meet. She willingly leans into the kiss and I swear I feel a knifelike pain through my heart. I try to pull myself away from staring, but I can’t. It’s right then and there that I realize if I ever get a shot with Kate I won’t hesitate. I’ll jump at the chance.
These are songs that I listened to while writing and made me think of the characters.
Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye (Kate to Kyle)
Redneck Crazy by Tyler Farr (Kyle to Kate)
Agape by Bear’s Den (Reed to Kate) s (some of the lyrics are quoted in the epilogue)
Closer to You by Wallflowers (Reed to Kate)
Goodbye To You by Michele Branch (Kate to Kyle)
Wicked Game by Phillip Phillips (Reed to Kate)
Wanna Feel It by the Olms (Reed to Kate)
Give It All We Got Tonight by George Straight (Reed to Kate)
Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson (Reed to Kate)
You Got Me by Ashley Monroe (Kate to Reed)
Everlong by Foo Fighters (Reed to Kate)
Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard (Kate)
Apologize by One Republic (Kyle to Kate)
Backtrack by Rebecca Ferguson (Kate to Kyle)
I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift (Kate to Kyle)
About The Author
Melissa Rolka grew up in the Chicagoland area all of her childhood and has always had a love of writing. She started by keeping a journal at a young age and then in high school she started writing poetry. A couple poems were published anonymously. Then in college she majored in Philosophy, which required lots and lots of writing. After graduating from Marquette University she traveled west to Los Angeles. There she worked for the Writers Guild of America and found herself submerged in the writers world. She worked on small writings, but never pursued them. On the side she became involved with a small theater group. Eventually she made her way back to the Midwest, where her heart belongs, and worked in business for several years. She found love, got married and has two beautiful children. Being at home has allowed her to keep following her love of reading and writing.
The Perfect Distraction is her first full length novel. A second continuation of this story is in the works with hopes for a third. When Melissa is not writing she is caring for, playing with and loving her two kids. In between taking care of her family and writing she almost always has her nose buried in her Kindle.