Why? Why did Gideon have to show up on my doorstep after two years? No communication of any kind. Not one damn word. There hadn’t been any texts, calls, not even an email or letter. Not a thing. Two whole heartbreaking years, missing him and wondering what she could’ve done differently to have made things work. Nothing, that’s what. Sometimes there were no answers, no reasons for why things happened. She, of all people, had learned that hard lesson and wore the emotional scars to prove it.
Mackenzie blinked back the blur of tears that had been threatening to fall for the last several hours. He’d already left her…again. Would there be a next time? Mackenzie wasn’t sure she even wanted there to be. A torrential downpour of feelings raged inside her. Why me? Why now? Because life must have it out for me.
Today had already been exhausting enough, not that she’d minded spending time with her besties, Molly and Tiffany. So much had changed over the course of spring and summer that it had left her questioning where she was in her life. Where do I fit in now? What am I even doing with my life? Career-wise, Mackenzie was good. She was a teacher, a noble profession. Granted, most of the time it was a day filled with her watching booger eating, being patient with whining and rattling off ABCs to five-year-old kids, but it filled her maternal void. Love-life-wise, she was lost, floundering in a vast sea of loneliness. Okay, perhaps that was a little dramatic, but when her two best friends in the entire world had both gotten hitched within what seemed like minutes and she hadn’t, it made her a tad grumpy, to say the least.
The three of them had been single off and on over the course of their long friendship. The girls had seen her with Gideon and they’d seen her without him. It hadn’t been a pretty scene, either way. So much could change in a moment, from being engaged to the man of her dreams to being dumped only a few days before the ceremony. It had gotten a little more than ugly. Why did he even bother coming back? What could he possibly have to say after all this time?
It didn’t matter because Mackenzie had experienced enough heartbreak only a few months ago to last her a lifetime. The hurt Gideon had caused didn’t even compare to the pain and grief she’d been left with when her sister had been killed. Nothing could replace her. A man could be replaced. A new love could fill the hole where it had once been cut and carved out her heart, but losing a sister? That chunk of her heart could never be replaced. She didn’t give two flying fucks what he’d come there to say. At least that was what she told herself.
She cinched the waist of her most comfy pajamas and padded barefoot into her kitchen. It was vodka time. Mackenzie snatched a lemon from her overflowing fruit bowl. She couldn’t help but laugh as she gave it a hard squeeze.
When life hands you lemons, screw lemonade. Just add vodka.
* * * *
The next day, a slightly hungover and irritable Mackenzie had agreed to join Molly at the waterfront. Mackenzie crossed her long, jean-clad legs as she sat on a weathered bench and stared out at the murky water. Boats bobbed on the surface as seagulls cried overhead. The Seattle sky, an ugly gray filled with thick clouds, matched her mood. Her bestie, Molly, was seated next to her. Her friend had been going on and on about the plans for her baby shower that they would be having soon. Mackenzie’s mind couldn’t be further away. She sipped on the pumpkin-spiced latte in her cardboard cup. The spicy blend of flavors announced that fall was officially there. Trees had already begun to change. Bold colors of red, orange and yellow could be seen in every direction. There was a chilly bite to the air and Mackenzie was thankful for the warmth of her delicious coffee drink. She cradled it in her hands and stole the heat from the small cup.
“If Owen would just let us find out what the gender is, this whole planning would be much easier. You know?” Molly complained as she rubbed her belly.
“Life is only full of so many wonderful surprises. Let this be one of them,” Mackenzie countered. Do I even believe the crap I’m feeding Molly?
Molly huffed. “What’s going on with you? You seem so down in the dumps.”
Mackenzie hadn’t shared much of what she’d been feeling lately. Of course, her friends knew she was still mourning her sister’s death. They’d been incredibly supportive and patient with her as she tried to navigate through the confusing waters of loss. What they didn’t know was that Gideon had returned. She wasn’t sure how supportive they would be when they did find out. To say they were angry with him was a mild understatement. Utterly livid and wanting to cause physical pain… That was a more accurate description of their feelings toward a man whom Mackenzie had once loved with all her heart and soul—and still sort of did.
“It’s just been rough,” Mackenzie replied. It was a simple answer and she hoped it would suffice.
“I know, Mac. It’s gotta be hard.” Molly frowned, her face full of sympathy—not an ounce of pity, just genuine concern and love. She reached for Mackenzie’s hand and gave it a strong squeeze. It was almost enough to unleash the tears Mackenzie had worked to hold back all day.
Molly was quiet then spoke, “Owen wanted to know when you planned on scattering her ashes.”
Mackenzie wasn’t anywhere near ready and she wasn’t sure she ever would be. The wooden box sat on a shelf in her bedroom and she looked at it every single day. Each one that passed was supposed to get easier, yet it hadn’t. Instead, Mackenzie wondered each time why her baby sister had died that day. How could something so awful happen to someone so sweet and kind? She knew traffic accidents occurred all the time, but when it was a family member who had been killed due to another’s stupid error in judgment, it was brutal. Mackenzie had always been against drinking and driving. She’d never allowed herself behind the wheel in that state, even after only two cocktails. It gutted her to think that someone had decided they were okay enough to drive when they obviously were not, and now her sister was gone because of it.
It was nice of Owen to offer to take her out to sea where Mackenzie could scatter her remains, but it was too soon. “I appreciate the offer. Please tell him that for me. But I’m just not quite ready.”
“It might help you move on,” Molly added. “We’re all here for you. You know that, right? We’re just concerned and want you to be okay.”
“I’ll be fine.” I will be, right?
Mackenzie focused her attention back out on the water and it took everything she had to not break down. She’d save that for later when there was no one to watch.
* * * *
It’d been two whole days since Gideon had sat on her porch. For two days, her mind had replayed their entire history together, over and over again—the good, the bad and what might’ve been. It didn’t matter if she was driving, brushing her teeth or shaving her legs. She was constantly thinking about him.
Mackenzie was done with Gideon. She needed to be for the sake of her sanity. So why is it so damn impossible? Every time Mackenzie closed her eyes she saw him—his handsome face with the strong jaw that was always clean shaven. She could thank years of military service for that. His green-blue eyes were like deep pools, sparkling and inviting. Then there were those great lips she had once loved kissing, the same lips that had whispered some of the naughtiest things she’d ever heard spoken, but those that had also told her it was over. Mackenzie’d never thought she’d see his face again—had even hoped she never would—yet she had and now her whole world was more of a mess. How is it possible for shit to get worse? Seeing him had thrown her for a loop, flipped her world upside down and when she’d heard his voice, it had been her total undoing. Mackenzie had ordered him to leave but now regretted not at least finding out what it was that he’d wanted. It had eaten away at her, gnawed at her all day and night. She’d attempted to put on a happy mask at work and tried to tell herself that it didn’t matter what he had come to say. There was nothing that could take back the hurt he’d caused her. No words could replace the two miserable years without Gideon. Or can they? Does he have a valid excuse? Has something changed? Mackenzie mentally slapped herself. What is wrong with you, woman? This man left you days before your wedding. No, there was nothing he could say to make that okay.
Mackenzie sighed. No, he didn’t have that right anymore. He’d lost that privilege. She needed to take her mind off Gideon. Now. Mackenzie looked at the screen of her cell phone and hesitated. Should I bother with this one?
“Hello?” a sexy voice on the other line answered.
“Hey, Jason.” Mackenzie smiled at the masculine sound of his voice. She had promised herself that she was done with him, too, but figured a sexy distraction couldn’t hurt right about now. Mackenzie just wanted to combat her boredom with a little conversation and one that wasn’t with one of her girls. They would only pester her and ask if everything was okay.
Jason… Now he’s a story all in himself. She and the girls had traveled to Vegas shortly after her sister had died. She’d needed to escape Seattle, to drown her troubles and to let loose. What better way than dancing on tables? That was where Jason had come in—a hot, muscular and beautifully inked bouncer. Mackenzie, little Miss Conservative, would have never considered a possible fling or romance with someone like him. Yet, she’d found herself attracted. She’d known they couldn’t be more different, but there was just something about him that had made her pulse quicken and had gotten her all hot and bothered. Maybe it was his strong, alpha-male presence. Perhaps it was the way his lips felt against hers. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because poor Mackenzie hadn’t gotten laid in over two years. No matter how much she’d tried, though, nothing had happened between them—physically speaking, anyway. Mackenzie and Jason had texted, called and even visited each other a few times. Again, nothing. Her own insecurities made her believe it had everything to do with her, that something must be terribly wrong. Mackenzie just couldn’t figure out what. Is he not attracted to me? Am I getting to be too old? Does he think I’m boring and not the fun girl I tried so hard to pose as?
“Hey, babe, what have you been up to?” he asked.
“Nothing much, just work. You?” Mackenzie tried to think of what topics they could cover. Their last visit had ended with Tiffany getting hitched to her lovely, extremely wealthy and Irish boss, Colin. Things hadn’t gone so well the last time she had been with Jason. Why am I even calling him? Desperate times call for desperate measures, cupcake.
“Same. When are you coming back to visit me, sexy?”
Such a tease. Does he miss me? The silky sound of his voice made her desire him. There was no doubt that she’d drop her panties if he asked. God, who am I? This was not like her at all. See what happens when you become desperate to get laid? You become stupid, weak and are willing to do just about anything to fulfill that ache. And at that very moment, Mackenzie would do anything to sleep with that very hot bouncer from Vegas.
“I could say the same for you,” Mackenzie replied slowly. Would I welcome Jason back into my life? Hell, yeah, if it meant I could finally quench this ridiculous lusty thirst—to end the drought, as Tiffany named it. Two years of celibacy. Mackenzie was practically a nun or a born-again virgin.
He laughed then his voice went rough. “I just may need to.” Mackenzie’s ears perked up at the change in his tone when he asked, “You alone, babe?”
Mackenzie swallowed and nodded. You stupid, horny idiot, answer him. “Yeah,” she managed.
“God, baby, I’ve missed you so much,” Jason growled. “My cock is so hard right now just at the sound of your voice.”
She’d never heard him talk dirty. Where exactly did this come from? Not that she was complaining.
“Are you wet hearing me?” Jason asked.
Uh. Mackenzie inhaled deeply and decided to see where this was headed. “Maybe a little,” she lied. Mackenzie had no flipping clue. Maybe I should check?
“Are you touching yourself?” Jason’s voice was heavy. “That would be fuckin’ hot if you were.”
She wasn’t good at this whole phone sex stuff. Mackenzie had no clue how to talk dirty or play the role of a sex kitten. She was beyond out of practice and found herself fumbling as she tried to undo her pants. After finally having loosened the fuzzy pink pajama bottoms, her hand rested on her crotch on the outside of her plain, terribly ordinary cotton underwear. Did she dare play along with Jason? She didn’t feel the least bit sexy.
“I wanted you a lot when you were here, sweetheart.”
Then why in the hell didn’t you do something about it? Mackenzie breathed into the phone, “I wanted you, too.” She let her finger dip past the elastic of her underwear. That felt naughty and so good. Oh, shit. Mackenzie’d had no idea this conversation was going to head in this direction but she decided to just go with it. This was going to be one helluva distraction. Mackenzie circled her finger around her clit. She enjoyed the soft, moist feel of her sensitive nub.
“Tell me what you’re doing right now. I’m squeezing my cock and thinking of how sexy you are,” Jason described. “I’m so hard right now. I just want to bend you over and give you all of it.”
Yes, I need this. Mackenzie licked her lips. Oh, what she’d give to see his cock. “I’m playing with my clit. I’m imaging it’s your tongue, baby. That you’re sucking on it and licking every single inch of my wet pussy.” Mackenzie felt brazen and figured after the shitty week she’d had, she’d more than earned this moment of lusty distraction.
“Fuck, yeah. I’d love to eat that juicy pussy and make you come all over my face.” Jason’s voice had become ragged. Mackenzie closed her eyes and pictured his dark goatee covered in her juices. She could hear him stroking himself. The fast, steady movements carried across the miles through their phone. Jason whispered, “Damn, this is hot.”
She had to admit Jason was right. This was extremely hot by Mackenzie’s standards and it turned her on fiercely. Mackenzie plunged one finger inside to find herself warm and slick. God, I need to get laid. Her fingers weren’t going to cut it. Her dildo barely handled business whenever she’d felt the rare urge to pleasure herself. What Mackenzie needed was true human contact, someone to love her. She wanted to be pounded and she pictured Jason hammering into her. She drove her fingers deeper while she worked her clit with her thumb. This will just have to do. Better than nothing.
Jason moaned then the line went quiet. Mackenzie froze. She stopped her fingers. “Hello?” she asked, fearful they’d been disconnected.
“Thanks, babe. Damn, I needed that,” Jason announced. “Hey, I gotta run. You know, work and shit. Maybe give me a call tomorrow.”
Silence again. Jason had ended their call. What? He was already done. What about me? Mackenzie was so pissed off that she removed her hand. She threw her head back and cried out in frustration. Did he forget that I needed to get off, too? What a selfish prick. She hated men. Men sucked.