Mending Heart

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Chapter 24

Rock Bottom

“Your breakdown is a breakthrough.” – Andrea Benito


“McKenzie!” As soon as I stepped off the elevator, Ethan’s voice boomed. Well, that didn’t take long at all, I thought. “My office – RIGHT NOW!”

Ignoring the curious stares of everybody in the hallways, I stalked into his office. “What?” I snapped, eager for him to get to the point already. I figured it was best if he got all the yelling out of the way first.

I probably shouldn’t be poking the bear right now, but oh well.

Oh well, seemed to be my new motto as of lately.

Slamming the door shut, Ethan took a visibly deep breath. “Please tell me you did NOT tell a client to fuck off?”

“She had it coming,” I mumbled, all of a sudden finding the chipping nail polish on my nails very fascinating.

“She had –” His voice flattered, eyes wide. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Okay so, he was angrier than I thought he was going to be.

“It is not my fault she was acting like a total bitch, telling us what to do!” I defended, still refusing to meet his gaze. Instead, I focused my attention on the certificates and awards hanging on the wall behind him.

“Did you hit your head this morning or something?” Ethan shouted, taking me by surprise. I’ve never seen him this angry before, at least not towards me. “Of course she can fucking tell you what to do! She’s paying us to provide a service! She can tell you whatever the fuck she wants, and you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut and smile!”

I snorted and cocked an eyebrow in his direction. Surprise flashed in his eyes before they hardened. “You crossed a line, McKenzie.”

“Oh bite me!” I rolled my eyes, surprising even myself at the words coming out of my mouth. It’s like I was asking to get fired. “Can I go now?”

For the past three weeks, I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed every single morning. I was moodier than usual, and today I just finally snapped – big time.

I was at a client site going over the books when their President came poking her head in and started telling me and the others what accounts to look at specifically, what tests to run, etc. I tried to keep my cool, I really did, but when she asked me why I was still looking through their client list when she specifically told me not to – well, I just snapped.

I told her to fuck off and mind her own business.

The look on her face was priceless, but within seconds she had pulled out her cellphone and was on the phone. I presumed she called Ethan, but I wasn’t sure because I got my bag and left.

Which brings us to right now.

Ethan blinked – once, twice – before stepping closer so that he was towering over me, nostrils flared. “Are you out of your fucking mind? Can you not grasp the severity of the situation?”

“I can –” I flatly replied, holding his gaze. His expression was a mixture of anger and disappointment. “I just don’t care.”

And that was the truth – I didn’t care. I know I should because my job was at stake, but I didn’t. Maybe it was the fact that I knew I wouldn’t have a hard time finding another job, or I was just totally losing my mind.

Although, if I had to pick between the two, my money’s on the latter.

Ever since my little nightcap at Megan’s wedding, I hadn’t been myself. I couldn’t even blame my actions on being drunk because I was only slightly tipsy. No – drunk came after I left Hayden in that bathroom.

I wish I could explain what I was feeling, but I simply couldn’t put it into words. Every time I looked at Ethan, I felt the bile rise and the overpowering guilt overtake me. He and I weren’t exclusive or anything, but it didn’t make me feel any less dirty and guilty for sleeping with Hayden. Every time I saw him, I just wanted to blurt it out and have him yell at me.

Maybe then I could finally stop feeling this way.

But it wasn’t just the overwhelming guilt that was driving me crazy. I was driving myself crazy. Concentrating on anything was nearly impossible, and it was like living in a constant state of anxiety while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For a moment, Ethan just stared at me like I had grown a second head before he sighed deeply. “Get your stuff. You’re on administrative leave until I figure out what to do with you.”

“Gladly.” I stood up and yanked open his office door, only to find everyone scurrying to make themselves look busy when it was clear they had been listening in. “Can’t anybody mind their own damn business in this place?”

Heads continued to turn as I stalked towards the elevator, everyone eager to find out what all the shouting was about. “Take a picture,” I practically shouted losing the last bit of chill I was holding onto as the elevator doors closed behind me.

......

Ethan P.O.V

I watched her back retreat down the hall until she finally turned the corner.

“What the fuck were you thinking McKenzie,” I muttered to no one in particular. I palmed my forehead in frustration, my hand roughly scraping against my skin.

I was worried about her before, but now I was genuinely concerned for her wellbeing. She hadn’t been herself the past three weeks, and I’m pretty sure she lost some weight too. The dark purple veins under her eyes had accentuated, and I often caught her staring off into space as if she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.

I tried talking to her a couple of times, but with being out of town almost all of last month and still trying to respect her space, I wasn’t getting very far. I had hoped that now that the Stacy thing was out in the open, we could move past it but it seems that McKenzie and I were slipping further and further away from each other.

“I’m sorry to interrupt Mr. Thomas,” MaryAnne called out from the doorway. “But your father is on the phone. He says it’s urgent.”

Of course, this had already reached him.

Sabrina Nowak was an outright bitch, but she was also one of the most influential real estate brokers in the city and brought in millions of dollars in revenue each year. She was one of my father’s first clients when he started this company twenty-five years ago, and needless to say, she had him on speed dial.

“Thank you MaryAnn.” I nodded, adjusting my tie before picking up the phone.

I couldn’t even get a hello in before his voice echoed through the phone receiver. “What the hell is going on over there Ethan?”

“Hello to you too.” I sarcastically replied, rolling my eyes.

“Don’t give me that bullshit –” My father gritted on the other line, traffic sounds in the background. “Tell me why Sabrina Nowak just called me and threatened to walk because one of my managing directors told her to fuck off.”

“Oh that,” I lamely replied, taking a seat in my chair. There was no point in standing, this was going to be a long conversation. “It’s just a misunderstanding. I’m taking care of it.”

“You’re taking care of it?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it?”

“Keep your plaything under control, Ethan.” I could feel my father’s glare through the phone. But what took me by surprise wasn’t my father’s tone of voice, no – it was the way he was referring to McKenzie. What is it with everyone assuming she’s my plaything? “I didn’t approve your relocation to the Chicago office so you can run my business into the ground.”

“Watch your tone dad,” I warned, feeling the anger bubbling inside my chest.

“Or what?” He laughed on the other line. “You know – I had lunch with Stacy a few weeks back. She told me all about this McKenzie.” Of course, he had to bring up Stacy. Some days I just want to ask him why didn’t he marry her instead.

“Aren’t you supposed to be enjoying your time off with mom?” I snapped. “Why don’t you do that instead of focusing on inner-office gossip and the lies that spew out of my ex-wife’s mouth.”

“It’s very hard to enjoy my time off when I have multi-million dollar clients calling me and telling me to fire one of my MDs.” He snapped back.

“Just drop it, dad.” I sighed. “I’ll take care of it, and I’ll make sure Sabrina doesn’t take her business anywhere else.”

Choosing to ignore me, he instead asked, “What are you doing to reprimand her?”

“She’s on administrative leave until further notice,” I admitted, feeling a migraine creeping in.

If it were anyone else, I would have already fired them.

“That’s not enough.” My father reminded me. And he was right, I just couldn’t bring myself to fire her. Contrary to what my father and everyone else believed, this wasn’t because I was sleeping with her. That has nothing to do with it. She was walking a very thin line, and I was afraid that this was just going to set her over the edge.

McKenzie needed help beyond what I could give her, and until she got that help, she was vulnerable.

“It’s enough for now.” I scowled at nothing in particular, leaning forward in my seat and thumbing the stack of post-it notes on my desk.

“Just fix it.” My father demanded. “And stop thinking with your dick!” With that, the line went dead.

Slamming the phone receiver back, I couldn’t help but laugh.You’re going to be the end of me, McKenzie, I shook my head.

_____________________________________________

This was one of my favorite chapters to write! There is just something about bossy Ethan that is so sexy.

Don’t forget to Like, Comment and Review!

- Kat

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