Mending Heart

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Chapter 20

Crash and Burn

“It’s okay if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.” – Colette Werden


As soon as I walked through the door and into my apartment, I kicked off my shoes and set the keys in the bowl by the door. Dropping off my purse on one of the kitchen island stools, I made my way towards the bathroom.

I needed a shower.

Not only was I sticky with sweat from the heat, but I figured it would help calm my nerves and help curb the strong urge to call Ethan and give him a piece of my mind.

I should have followed my gut and stayed as far away from him as possible when I found out who he was, and that he was going to be my boss. Nothing good ever comes out of thinking with your lady parts, I thought.

The apartment was empty and eerily quiet except for the whirring of the AC and my padded footsteps against the hardwood floor. Zoey had gone back home shortly after I told her it was time for her and mom to kiss and make up. Of course, the two of them had not completely made up and they were continuously throwing snide comments at one another like there was no tomorrow – but, there was only so much I could do.

Stripping off my clothes, I stepped into the shower and immediately felt the hot water prickle my skin. As I stood there letting the day wash away, I couldn’t help the bitter laugh that escaped my lips.

Was I really that gullible and easy to play?

Was stupid written on my forehead and I somehow missed it?

First Justin, and now Ethan.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m innocent, because perhaps if Ethan and I had defined our relationship – or whatever the fuck you want to call it – then maybe meeting his wife would not have taken me by such surprise.

In the end, it stings because he turned out to be no different than all the other guys out there – a lying cheating asshole.

........

I had just settled on the couch with my laptop in front of me, ready to tackle the hundreds of unread emails I had yet to respond to when I heard a knock on the door.

I swear to God if it’s Mrs. O’Connell from downstairs here to yell at me about making too much noise when I walk, I was not going to be responsible for my actions.

Yanking the door open, I expected to see Mrs. O’Connell’s old and wrinkly face staring back at me. Instead, it was Ethan’s handsome face I was met with. I blinked stupidly – once, twice. When I finally came back to reality, I scowled. “You have the wrong address. Your wife lives somewhere else.”

“McKenzie, please.” He pleaded, attempting to get closer but I was quick to block him by extending my arm and pushing against his chest.

“No –” I said, putting my other hand up. “You don’t get to come to my apartment and act all innocent.”

His brows knitted together. “I’m not acting any one way. Please just listen to me. Whatever Stacy said to you isn’t true.”

“No?” I challenged, crossing my arms over my chest. “So she isn’t your wife?”

“She is bu –” He began before I quickly cut him off.

“Get out,” I said, standing my ground. With one hand still clutching the door frame, I motioned for him to leave.

“Please ju –” I found myself hitting his chest, my lousy attempt at pushing him out. However, I should have known that wouldn’t work since his frame was made up of pure muscle. I even went as far as to try and slam the door in his face but he was quicker than I was. Instead, Ethan slapped his hand on the door and barged it.

“Stop overreacting.” He snapped, slamming my apartment door shut behind him.

I wasn’t scared of him, far from it actually – I just didn’t want to talk to him.

The way I see it, I have every right to be angry right now and demand some space.

“Oh, you want to see overreacting?” I let out a sarcastic laugh, reaching for the first thing I could get my hands on which just so happened to be the bowl holding my keys. “I’ll show you overreacting you insufferable lying cheating asshole!”

“Are you crazy?” Ethan managed to ask in between dodging the flying bowl I just sent his way.

“Crazy?” I deadpanned in a quiet voice.

Crazy.

Did he called me crazy?

“No, no.” I continued, starting to hear the cracks in my voice. “Crazy would be lying to me, and cheating on your wife!”

“McKenzie, stop.” He said grabbing both of my wrists and gripping them tightly. “I don’t know what she told you, but it’s more complicated than that.”

“It not. You’re married end of discussion.” I growled, glaring daggers at his chest. “The way I see it, this relationship, or whatever this was, has run its course.”

“Don’t say that.” His eyes softened and his grip on my wrists loosened enough for me to be able to snatch them out of his grasp.

“I don’t know what you were looking for, but I can guarantee you I’m not her.” I sighed, placing my hands on my hips. “I’m not an accessory, I’m not a trophy, and I sure as hell am not going to be your side piece.”

“I never treated you that way.” His head whipped to the sound of my voice, and I could see the surprise flash in his eyes before they hardened. “You are not, nor ever were a side piece.”

“Just let it go Ethan.” I rolled my eyes, slipping past him. “You’re making this into a bigger deal than it needs to be.”

“I don’t like your tone, McKenzie.”

“There is no tone.” I sighed, leaning against the door frame “It was fun while it lasted, but we both knew it wasn’t going to be forever. Forever just isn’t in the books for us.”

He continued to eye me again, sadness and shock deepening his expression. “Is that really what you think?” He asked quietly.

“Please leave.” I continued, turning the doorknob and opening the door for him. “I’ve had a long day, and I still have work to do.” Ethan looked torn, but eventually shook his head and sighed before leaving my apartment.

I’d like to take a moment now to pat myself on the back for not completely breaking down in front of Ethan when all I wanted to do was let the tears that threatened to spill, fall.

After he was gone, I leaned against the door and counted to ten. With one last deep breath, I pushed myself off the door and quickly wiped away the tears that did make their way onto my face.

From now on, I was done crying over things I had no control over.

.........

After getting through my emails, I finally shut my laptop off for the night. It probably took me a lot longer than it should have, given that every so often Ethan’s words would ring out making me doubt and question everything.

“You are not, nor ever were a side piece.”

I wanted to believe him, oh how I wanted to believe him. But there was a part of me that was scared. Scared of opening myself up to someone. Scared of getting hurt. Scared of being betrayed – again.

I was in the kitchen heating some leftovers when I remembered I had an unopened bottle of Tequila in the pantry from my last birthday.

Desperate times, call for desperate measures.

Rummaging through the pantry, I found the bottle sitting behind a couple of boxes of cereal. Pulling it out, I smiled triumphantly.

Tequila – my dear old friend.

No, I wasn’t planning on drinking the entire bottle tonight by myself because that’s just sad – even for my standards. However, a few shots to take the edge off won’t hurt.

You know what they say – fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

The thing that bothered me the most, is how I didn’t see the signs. Was I really that desperate for company that I completely ignored the warning signs, or was Ethan just that good at hiding his other life?

Reaching above the sink for a shot glass, I grabbed the first one my hand touched. It was one of those engraved ones you get at the airport when you forgot to bring someone back a souvenir – in my case Megan had bought this for me on her way back from New Orleans a few years ago.

It read, Drink Responsibly – i.e – Don’t Spill.

Unscrewing the bottle cap, I wrapped my hand around the bottle and was just about to start pouring when my phone pinged. The sudden noise startled me, causing me to jump and the bottle of Tequila to slip from my fingers and land on the kitchen floor in dozens of shattered pieces.

“Fuck.” I yelped, bending down to scoop the broken glass. That proved to be a mistake when one of the pieces pierced my skin, and blood began gushing out.

Letting out a frustrated sigh, I stood up and went to grab a paper towel to stop the bleeding. Although the glass had only slightly punctured my flesh, there was enough blood coming out to redden the portion of the paper towel I had wrapped over it.

Then, my phone pinged for the second time. Rolling my eyes, I picked it up and saw it was a text from my mom.

Mom: Dinner Sunday?

Kenzie: Sure. Do you need me to bring anything?

While mom and I had our issues, who was I to deny a home-cooked meal – especially when hers were out of this world. Too bad I didn’t inherit her talent in the kitchen, only her strong will and constant need to argue with other people.

Stealing one more glance at the shattered glass on the floor, I placed the shot glass in the sink and left everything as it was.

Looks like I was just going to have to settle for Netflix tonight.

......

“What’s going on with you?” Megan asked, lifting the towel wrapped around her neck so that she could wipe the sweat dripping from her forehead. “Are you okay?”

“Fine,” I muttered, my attention focused on the spin instructor at the front. “I ended things with Ethan.”

“What?” Her head snapped in my direction. “Why?”

Ah – yes, the inevitable why.

“Because he’s married.”

“What?” This time a few people turned in our direction, and the instructor gave us a warning glance. Quieter, Megan said, “There has to be more to it Kenz.”

“There really isn’t.”

“But –” She began protesting just as the instructor had us change positions. “I saw the two of you together. He was smitten.”

“Doesn’t matter.” I shook my head. “It’s over.”

“I still think you should hear him out – see what he has to say.”

And I think men are a piece of shit, I thought bitterly.

Choosing to ignore her, I instead said, “Next time, we should consider taking a boxing class instead of a spin class.”

I’m sure it would do wonders for all the emotions I have bottled up.

________________________________________________________________________________

I’m gonna let you guys in on a little secret that wasn’t the big confrontation between Ethan and Kenzie. More to come in the next couple of chapters :)

Don’t forget to Like, Comment and Review!

– Kat

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