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Ross 03 Leave Me Breathless(54)

By:Cherrie Lynn

Brian glanced over at her, then returned his gaze to the road. Despite the late night, he’d been ready to go bright and early, meeting her in the hotel parking lot a little before eight. He looked as if he’d slept fine.

What a bust this had been.

“Taking a break? I think so. I mean, it hurts, I can attest to that. But it’s necessary sometimes. You either realize that you can’t live without them or that you were fucking crazy for ever trying to live with them.”

“Do you believe him? Honestly. Forget the guy-code BS and tell me if what he said made any sense.”

“We’re talking about Raina here. Yes. It made perfect sense.”

She laughed without mirth. “I guess so. Did you talk to him this morning?”

“No. I did late last night. He was going to sleep it off and head for home later today.”

“He’ll be okay, right?”

“He’ll be fine. He’s been through worse.”

“I don’t doubt it. You’ll look out for him?”

He nodded once and tugged his cap lower over his eyes. “Always.”


“Candace said you never called her last night.”

Sighing, she rubbed at the headache that had never quite left her overnight. “I couldn’t. There was no way I could’ve talked about it, even with her.”

“Just so you know, I didn’t tell her anything. She asked how it went, and I only said it didn’t go so well, and you were upset. You can tell her what you want.”

“Keeping it in your vault, huh?”

He made a motion as if he were flicking a key away from his lips. “In the vault.”

“Thank you, Brian. And I’m sorry more than ever now that you got dragged into this.”

“Hey, I hope it works out for you guys. I really do.”

She watched as the green landscape rolled past outside her window. Spring was everywhere, it seemed, except inside her soul. Winter still festered there, bleak and unrelenting. “I’m sure it will.” But she didn’t hear a single note of confidence in her voice. She couldn’t even muster a fake one.

Days went by. He didn’t call. Even if it was the very thing she’d asked for, it weighed on her heart to think of him alone in the house where he had memories of his parents and his grandmother, all of them gone now. Memories of a sister who wasn’t around for him, and a brother who’d ripped his heart out and apparently still didn’t give a damn about it.

So many times she found herself driving by his house like a psycho stalker. Like Raina, she often thought with a smirk. But where Raina was probably building shrines and doing voodoo love spells or something, Macy was just trying to work up the courage to stop. To get out, to walk up and ring his doorbell. To put her arms around him. She never could quite muster it.

For all she knew, her speech about needing a family someday had scared him away more than anything else. It wasn’t exactly what a girl should spout when she was trying to snag a man, and she still wondered what possessed her to do it. Just a burning need to lay her soul out there for him, to let him make a decision about her, knowing everything he thought he knew about her was wrong.

She had some decisions to make herself. Like if she believed him about Raina.

If it even freaking mattered about Raina. Somehow, the anger at him wasn’t there anymore. It was all at that girl. At that annoying little pest who would probably always be lurking around, waiting for her chance to resurface with a new strike against them. Macy could just see it now. Nuclear war, and all that would be left were cockroaches and Raina.

She couldn’t go to Dermamania anymore, either. Every time she thought of stopping by to visit Candace, Seth was there. Even the convenient excuse to go in and see him wasn’t empowering enough. She was terrified to face him. What if he acted like nothing had ever happened between them? What if she was only kidding herself?

And why did she miss that damn place so much now that it was off-limits to her?

“Macy, just come by and talk to him!” Candace pleaded with her almost two weeks after the blow up in Austin. She’d never admitted to her friend what had really happened. In fact, she hadn’t let herself talk about Seth with Candace at all, mainly to avoid hearing those very words come out of Candace’s mouth. But Macy’s own vault had been getting full enough to burst; she’d had to ease the pressure.

“Maybe. Not anytime soon.”

“You know how you always like to tell me when I’m doing something stupid?”

“Yes. But I don’t need to hear—”

“Nuh-uh. You don’t get off that easy. You’re being stupid.”

“The thing is I was always wrong in your case.”

“Look, I’ve been where you are. So please take it from me how bad you’re screwing up right now.”

Her heart fell. “Why? He’s not…like, starting to see someone else, is he?”

“Seriously? No, dummy. But he needs you. He quit the band.”

Her fallen heart flopped around sickly for a second or two. “What did he do that for?”

“He’s pissed at them for bringing Raina to Austin without him knowing, apparently. Said it was the last straw.”

“He just…quit?”

“Is she causing you guys that much trouble? Is that what this is about? God, I can’t stand that bitch.”

“Candace. He quit?”

“Oh my God, are you listening to me right now? He quit. It was ugly. He’s been fighting with Mark for days; even Brian has had words with Mark—that’s the lead singer, in case you didn’t know. It’s been drama central up in here. You’re missing it.”

“I’ve had enough drama to last me a good long time.”

“So has he. Macy, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you this, but he’s seriously talking about moving to Oklahoma. Brian is beside himself.”

Macy’s eyes filled with tears. Instantly, just like that, the thought of those weeks without him turning into something permanent released the flood she’d been holding back ever since getting home from Austin. She sat in silence for so long trying to find her voice that Candace said, “Hello? Mace?”

“I’m here,” she whispered. It was all she could manage.

“Oh God. I’m sorry. But do you see? You’ve got to talk to him.”

“What do I do? Keep him from going? As much as we hate it, what if that’s the best thing for him? All I’ve been thinking about is how lonely he must be. He doesn’t have anyone here.” She knew her friend could hear the sobs threatening to overtake the words.

“He has us! He could have you too, if you weren’t so fucking stubborn. Do you love him, Macy?”

“I do.”

“Then tell him.”

What if he didn’t love her back?

It was the thought that kept her awake, burning in her brain as if it had been branded to the inside of her skull. And she cried. She cried for days, cried rivers, found all the emotions she’d tamped down and buried and never wanted to face again after her accident. If she’d had something to hit in her apartment, she’d have pummeled it.

Jared tried to call her; she told him to leave her alone. He wasn’t really guilty of anything except trying to get her back, but his trying had caused all this shit in the first place. She told him she was in love, and even if it didn’t work out, there would be no going back for them. His anger at her probably meant she’d never get to teach his adorable little girls to ride again, but it wasn’t her place to worry about them. They would find someone else.

But she found herself hanging out at her parents’ place a lot more than usual, enduring Mom’s concerned frown and her dad’s jovial obliviousness. It was the latter she gravitated toward, hoping to work up the courage to ask his advice. While her love life had never been a hot topic between them—she actually shuddered to think of talking to him about that—if there was a person in her life who would give it to her straight, it was good old Dad. He might love Jared, but he loved her more. He wouldn’t push her in that direction if she didn’t want to go, she was sure of it. Now Mom, on the other hand…

Late March was beautiful at the ranch, and she’d just gone out to feed the ducks and enjoy the mild evening air—really missing Ashley and Mia, who loved to help her do this—when her dad yelled at her from the arena.

“Macy-girl! Want to give Pixie a run?”

Grinning, she wiped her hands on her jeans and strolled over. “Sure.”

“I can set up the barrels for you.” His graying eyebrows waggled under his John Deere cap, which he’d taken to wearing constantly now that he was losing his hair. It was a taboo subject around their house.

Her heart leaped into her throat as she stepped through the fence. “Oh…”

“No push,” he said, shrugging as if he didn’t care one way or the other. Dammit, he knew how to get to her.

Mouth dry, she looked toward the barn. The rush of blood in her veins was almost audible as she considered. Her dad’s hand came down gently on her shoulder.

“I’ll just say this. I know how you are. I know the main thing holding you up right now is fear, but it’s not fear of what might happen but that you think you might not be perfect. It’s been years, Mace. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Life’s too short, but you’re still young. Give up that iron-knuckle grip you have on excellence and just…have fun. For a change.”