After Aaron was reborn, Keeley was different for some reason. She wasn't the little ball of sunshine that chased after him anymore. Most people fell into one of two categories: people who wanted something from him and people who feared him.
She had been the only one that didn't fall under either but now…
He refused to give up his chance at happiness this time around.
"Run, girl, if you can...but I won't let you because you belong to me no matter what..."
Keeley Hale stood her ground fiercely though tears threatened to spill out the corners of her eyes.
"What are you staring for? Leave," Aaron said flatly as he pulled out his phone and began scrolling through it.
Cold. Emotionless. Cruel.
Her husband of eight years looked as disinterested as ever and she was appalled. He had just told her his girlfriend was pregnant and he planned to divorce her as casually as if he was commenting on the weather.
"Not until you tell me the truth. Did she…have anything to do with my father's death? Are you covering up for her?" Keeley's fists shook but she wasn't sure whether it was from holding back the tears or from rage.
Her father—the only family she had left—died in a hit and run accident. The cops thought it was random but she couldn't believe that. Not after what she had seen. That woman was plotting to take her place from back when they were all in high school.
Aaron actually deigned to look up at her blankly. "So what if I am? She's worth more than fifty of you."
He had never exactly been the warmest person to begin with but it wasn't always this bad. Keeley couldn't remember the last time he looked at her with any degree of tenderness.
"I'll expose you," she seethed as the tears broke free. "I'll put both of you in prison."
He smiled wickedly. "Money is power, sweetheart. You can't do anything to me."
"Just you watch," Keeley spit out before slamming the front door behind her as hard as she could. There had to be someone who would believe her. All she needed was a tiny bit of proof!
She kicked a rock as she walked underneath some scaffolding on the sidewalk. New York was always under construction when the weather was nice.
Who could she talk to who had access to the traffic cameras that wasn't in either the Hales' or Knightons' pockets?
She had to try and think clearly. Rationality was all she had left after the man she once loved so deeply dealt the deathblow to her heart.
The scaffolding above her started to sway dangerously and she hurried out of the way before it collapsed. Keeley's heart raced. A lot of accidents like this had been happening lately. She knew it was all Lacy Knighton's fault.
If only she hadn't gotten involved with Aaron Hale in the first place and taken what Lacy thought should have been hers. Her father would probably still be alive and her entire life would have turned out differently.
To escape the scaffold, Keeley ran into the street but she thought she was safe since it was a back alley that only delivery trucks used and none were around.
Too bad she had cried earlier. Her head was still fuzzy so she didn't see the car speeding towards her—a car that still had remnants of blood under its bumper if someone looked hard enough.
Keeley got a glimpse of the driver as she went flying. She knew him but couldn't figure out where from. He didn't stop to help, screeching away and leaving the smell of burning rubber behind along with Keeley's broken body.
As her consciousness slipped away from her for the last time, she swore that she would haunt Aaron and Lacy and make them pay for what they did to her family.
When Keeley woke up, she was in a hospital bed. "I…didn't die?" she asked groggily.
The nurse on duty laughed in surprise. "Were you so worried? They only did a routine appendix removal."
Appendix removal? But she already had her appendix taken out when she was seventeen!
She wanted to ask what was going on but was distracted by a very familiar figure rushing through the door.
"Oh, honeybun, you're awake! I'm so glad," her father said with a relieved sigh as he caught his breath.
He was wearing a sweater over a collared shirt and, like usual, part of the shirt stuck out of the bottom. It was always becoming untucked. She used to tease him that it made him look like an absentminded professor.
She must be dreaming. Her father died more than two years ago. It had been so long since she heard anyone call her honeybun.
Or…was that other reality the dream? A premonition?
Her eyes filled with tears as she reached out her arms to hug the person she never thought she would see again. "Daddy!"
He moved over to the bedside to grant her request. "Daddy's here. I know this was really scary but you're going to be just fine."
"What happened?" Keeley asked.
She wanted to know if what he said was consistent with her memory. It was the only thing she could think of that could tell her what was going on.
"You were at school on a field trip when you said your stomach hurt and you collapsed, remember? Your teacher had to call an ambulance and you were rushed right here. I came as soon as I heard."
Right. They were visiting the Guggenheim Museum for history class in order to write a paper on modern art when it happened.
She went down in front of a Picasso. From her angle, it looked like the cubistic face was mocking her as her classmates began to scream for help.
The facts checked out. So was the future she remembered a dream or was she somehow reborn over a decade earlier?
Honestly, it didn't matter. Her father was alive. She hadn't met Aaron yet. All she had to do was avoid him.
Keeley tightened her arms around her father's back. Yes. She would stay away from Aaron Hale and Lacy Knighton no matter what. It couldn't be too hard to keep her head down.
Whatever had just happened, she was given a chance to do her life over right. Keeley could actually live her dreams instead of throwing her life away on someone who didn't love her.
This was the 21st century! No self-respecting woman should chase after a man that doesn't even value her. Love isn't necessary to be happy.
Besides, maybe someday she could find someone better for her. Anybody would be an improvement over her ex-husband.