“Mac,” I said, shaking his shoulder. “Wake up.”
Mac began to stir, but he wasn’t fully waking up. I went toward the drapes and pulled them open,
inviting the bright sunshine to illuminate the room, but had to cover my eyes from the searing pain in
my head, opening them had created.
“Oh, my head. Close the drapes…please,” he murmured.
“I need you to wake up and tell me what happened last night, Mac.”
“What do you mean, what happened last night?”
“I have a ring on my finger that tells me something happened. A ring on my left hand ring finger.
Did we do something crazy? Do you remember?”
Mac sat straight up in bed. The sheet pooled around his hips revealing his upper body. His bare
chest looked like a work of art sculpted by Michael Angelo. I had thought he was good looking with
his sandy brown hair, big blue eyes, Hollywood smile, and the slight beard framing his face, but I had
no idea his clothes were hiding all that. Mac swung his legs out of bed and got up, revealing the whole
package. Every part of him looked like it had been chiseled by a master. I tried to avert my eyes as he
walked past me, but I couldn’t tear them away. Mac was one magnificent man.
When he came out of the bathroom a few minutes later, he was wearing the other bathrobe,
looked like he’d washed his face, and had a hand towel around his neck. He looked like he had taken
a minute to regroup. I was a little disappointed he was covered up, as part of me would have liked
another viewing of his muscled physique. I felt myself turning crimson at my own lustful thoughts of
“How about some water?” he asked, as he reached for an overpriced bottled water the hotel
supplied. Obviously, for times like this.
“Thanks,” I said, as he handed me a bottle.
We both took a moment, and I drank practically half of it in one long gulp.
I frowned at him and asked again, “Do you know what happened last night?”
“I think we got married last night.”
“What?” I practically screamed at him.
“Take a look for yourself,” he said, lifting a piece of paper toward me. I took the paper out of his
hand and sat on the sofa next to him, staring at it, blinking my eyes, as if that was going to change what I
was seeing. Sure enough, it had both of our signatures on it and indicated we were married.
“This can’t be. We can’t be married,” I said, as I stared at the piece of paper that somehow had to
be a joke.
“I’m afraid it can be. We got married last night.”
Closing the door behind me, I was grateful to be back in my own room. Peeling out of my clothes,
I quickly got into the shower. It felt like an oasis, the water caressing my body. Thoughts of Mac and I
in bed were coming back to me like rapid fire from a machine gun. These thoughts startled me as my
body began to respond to the pictures in my mind. Mac knew his way around a female’s body and it
certainly felt as though he had pulled out all the stops with me. When I closed my eyes I could visualize
his head between my legs. The memory of it made my insides clench down deep. Then I remembered
the culmination of his efforts and my body’s response in a tantalizing orgasm. It was unlike anything I
had ever experienced before.
I had to push those thoughts out of my head because the whole situation was crazy. We got
married, and he didn’t seem to be taken aback by it. In fact, he was calm about the whole thing. Strange
reaction for a guy. I felt kind of bad for running out of there like I did, but when I fell on him, things
became real—too real. I began remembering in that moment our intimate interaction, and for a split
second, I thought about surrendering to my desire for him. Again. Willingly. While sober. If I had, we’d
She looked so open and carefree, that all I wanted to do was scoop her into my arms and kiss her.
“I’m going to lay my cards on the table, no pun intended. I like you. I have from the moment you walked
into the Statton’s kitchen. I’d like for us to get to know each other better and I want to start dating you
when we return to San Diego. How do you feel about that?”
Natalie looked down at her hands for a moment. When she looked up at me she had a coy smile on
her face. “I’d like that.”
I was so happy I acted on impulse. I leaned in and kissed her, gently at first, but then I couldn’t hold
back and I invaded her mouth with my tongue, stroking hers in an erotic dance. My hands found her
waist and I pulled her toward me, positioning her on top of me, her legs straddling my hips. She kissed
me back with a passion I hadn’t experienced before, like she had been dying to be kissed and I was the
cure. I untied her robe and slid my hands around her ribs. She was wearing a tank top and boxers. I
debated running my hands over her breasts, but in light of her inexperience, I didn’t want to move too
fast. So I just continued kissing her, pulling her body close to mine as she moaned in my mouth, causing
my blood to overheat. I wanted her and I wanted her bad.
Natalie pulled away and said, “We should slow down. I’m not ready to go this fast.” Her face was
flushed, and her breathing, ragged.
I looked into her beautiful blue eyes and moved her hair off her face. “All I want to do is kiss you.
I pulled into my garage, knowing the caterers would be showing up soon. When my parents died, I
debated selling and moving into another place, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I needed to keep this
part of them, and living in their house was the only way I knew how to do it. Deep in my heart, I believed
my mom would love Natalie. That thought had never occurred to me when I was dating Cassie, nor
anyone before her. It was good. Life was good. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t blow it.
The caterers showed up with everything on my wish list and set the scene for a romantic evening.
We were going to have dinner on the plush area rug in front of the fireplace. It just seemed like the
perfect spot for us to relax and be together.
The time was drawing near and I expected Natalie at any moment. The doorbell rang, and as I
eagerly approached the door, I was caught off guard with Cassie on the other side of it. What the hell
was she doing here?
“Cassie, I wasn’t expecting you,” I said in a slightly gruff tone.
“Well, life is full of unexpected surprises.”
“What are you doing here?” I asked, hoping she would get to the point before Natalie showed up. I
needed her gone before then.
“I thought we should talk. I hated how things ended between us. Can I come in?”
“Actually, I have plans for the evening, so we’ll have to talk another time.”
“I see. How about we meet for lunch sometime this week?”
“I’ll have to check with my secretary. I don’t know what I have available,” I said, attempting to
“I already called Alice and she said you have Wednesday open. How about we meet at our place?”
she asked with a coy demeanor.
“We don’t have ‘a place’ anymore. We’re broken up,” I said, hoping she would take the hint and
bow out gracefully.
She exhaled sharply. “We were together for two years and you can’t give me a lunch date?”
As she asked her question, Natalie pulled up in her car. Fuck. This can’t be happening.
“Of course. Let’s meet at noon on Wednesday,” I said, while Natalie got out of the car. “I’ll see you,
then,” I said, motioning with my hand for her to leave. The last thing I wanted was for her and Natalie
to cross paths, but it was about to be too late. Cassie turned, took one look at Natalie and then spun
around toward me.
“Your plans, I take it?” she said, bitterness dripping from her lips.
Cassie had a sharp tongue and could unravel this night before it even started. Natalie approached
and Cassie looked Nat up and down. “Are you next?” Cassie asked.
Natalie’s brow furrowed, confusion spreading over her face. “Excuse me?” she responded.
“You know, the next woman Mac has set his sights on.”
“Cassie, it’s time for you to go,” I said, intervening before this got out of hand.
Natalie went to shower, and after getting dressed, I went to place our order with Trina. When
breakfast was ready and Natalie had still not come up, I decided to check on her. As I approached the
bathroom, I heard sobs coming from within.
“Baby, are you okay?”
She just cried more.
“Can I come in?”
“Okay,” her trembling voice answered.
I could see her gorgeous body shaking through the clear shower door. I grabbed the towel off the
rack, opened the door, and took her by the hand. Stepping out of the shower, I wrapped both the towel
and my arms around her. Continuing to cry, she choked out, “I’m sorry.”
“Shh. There’s nothing to be sorry about. It’s only natural for you to be sad.”
“I just miss her, Mac. So much.”
“I know, baby, I know.”
“After our parents died, Jessica and I made our own tradition. We spent Christmas Eve with our
parents’ friends, the Millers, but on Christmas day we would go downtown and help at the homeless
shelter. Knowing there would be children there, we always brought a trunk full of gifts. It always worked
out that we had just the right number of gifts for the homeless boys and girls. It was all Jessica’s idea. In
many ways, she was so selfless and so loving. I hate how our relationship ended. Angry…hurtful. Each of
us saying things we can’t take back now.”
We stood there in the bathroom, my arms encircling her petite frame, her head resting on my
chest. There was nothing I could say to take her pain away, so I didn’t say anything.
“How did you get through your first Christmas after your parents died?”
“Neil’s mom got me through it. I just wanted to stay home, but she wouldn’t let me be alone.
She convinced me her family was my family, and they were there for me no matter what. They got me
through everything.” Her grip on me tightened. “I’m here for you and I’m never letting you go.”
20 fun facts
1. I was born in Louisiana. Still consider myself a Southern Belle, even though I have lived
in California longer.
2. I never eat lima beans because they remind me of stink bugs.
3. In high school, my favorite sport in P.E. was archery.
4. My toes are always painted.
5. I lived in Hawaii from 5-9 years old. Learned to hula then.
6. I’m technically challenged and didn’t send my first text until August~2013.
7. I met my hubby at a church singles group.
8. When writing the Killer Next Door series, I watched all of the Dexter episodes in about a
9. My favorite color is purple, but I only have 2 purple items in my closet.
10. I have 2 dogs. One whines and one groans to get my attention.
11. My hubby is complicated and I modeled Neil after his assertive side and Mac after his
perceptive, nurturing side.
12. My favorite super hero is Wonder Woman.
13. I’m addicted to mint chocolate chip ice cream.
14. I became a teacher at 35.
15. My hair is naturally curly, but I straighten it.
16. My favorite wine is Moscato.
17. I never played Scrabble until I was in my 30’s.
18. In college I drove a Camaro.
19. I love decorating and my home has an Italian flare to it.
20. I eat an apple and a pear every day.
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