Mending Heart

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Chapter 37

Nothing But the Best

“So, I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings.” – Nick Frederickson


“We’re going on a road trip.” I declared, plopping down on the bed next to Ethan. He looked up from his computer screen, setting down the notepad he was scribbling on, and closed the laptop. “What?” His eyebrows furrowed.

“It’s Zoey’s last week of college, and I’m going to visit her and help her move her stuff out of the dorm and into a storage unit for next fall,” I said rolling over onto my stomach, my arms propped under my chin. “And you’re coming with me.”

“Babe,” He chuckled, shaking his head. “I can’t just up and leave like that.”

“Yes you can, your name’s on the door – you can do whatever you want.” I pouted. “Plus, if you really have to, you can work from the hotel. Although, it would be greatly appreciated if you didn’t make me lift all of the heavy boxes.”

“McKenzie...” He sighed, rubbing his face.

“Please!” I tilted my head, sticking my bottom lip out. His eyes lowered to my mouth, and he lifted his hand, brushing his thumb over my lower lip. Rolling his eyes, he said, “That’s not fair. You know I can never say no to you.”

“Exactly,” I smirked, rolling on my back so that I was staring up at the ceiling. “There are perks to you loving me.”

“Is that so?” He asked, amusement seeping through his tone.

“Yes.” I shut my eyes and brought my hands up above my head.

“You know the other perks of me loving you?” He said casually, ignoring the way my eyes snapped open as I gaped at his words. I didn’t have time to reply because his hands made their way to my sides, and he began ticking me.

“Stop it!” I shrieked, a string of laughter erupting from my lips as I tried to kick and escape. However, despite my kicking and screaming, Ethan was stronger than me and he had crawled on top of me – pinning me down.

“Nope,” Ethan smirked condescendingly, which only made me glare at him harder.

“Ethan, stop it.” I tried to be stern, but in between giggles, I doubt it came off as anything but stern. “Please – I’m on my period, and all the laughing is not helpful.” He stilled immediately, and I took this as an opportunity to push him off me and straddle his waist.

“You Mr. –” I scolded, one hand resting on his chest and the other pointing my index finger at him. “Are in trouble. You know I hate being tickled.”

“Sorry babe.” He gave a small shrug while a sheepish smile made its way onto his face.

“Mhmm.” I hummed, rolling off of him. “I was thinking we’d leave tomorrow morning, but I’m assuming you’re going to have a problem with that so I’ll compromise. We can leave around noon instead.”

“You’re going to be the death of me.” I heard him mumble under his breath. Turning around, I innocently asked, “What was that?”

“Oh, nothing.” He sarcastically replied, propping up on his elbows. “What could I have possibly said.”

“That’s what I thought.” I smiled triumphantly, letting him finish his paperwork for the night.

.........

The next morning, Ethan grudgingly called the office and told them he was taking a few personal days off and only to contact him if it was an emergency.

“Are you finally ready to go?” I grumbled for what felt like the tenth time in the last hour. Just as we were getting ready to walk out the door, Ethan’s phone rang and he had to answer it. He was on the phone for a good thirty minutes, and then he spent another twenty minutes sending emails back and forth.

I was slowly but surely starting to lose my patience.

“Yes, yes. Just give me a minute.” He shouted from somewhere in the living room.

“I’ve been giving you a fucking minute for the past hour.” I snapped back, leaning against the door frame and running a hand through my hair.

I blame Satan’s sacrificial waterfall for the moodiness.

Just then, Ethan appeared around the corner, no laptop or phone visible. “The attitude is not necessary, McKenzie.” He scolded, playfully rolling his eyes as I opened the front door.

“Yeah, but you love me.” I smiled sweetly, slipping past him and out onto the front deck. Spring had finally rolled around after months of low temperatures and heavy downpours. Some of the trees had even begun to blossom, and a carnival of scents surrounded us.

“I do love you.” He shook his head as he took the duffle bag from my shoulder. We were going to be in Pennsylvania for a few days, and by some miracle, I packed light this time.

“Guess what?” I asked as he turned the key, checking to make sure it was locked, before pocketing his keys.

“What?” Ethan asked, removing the sunglasses from his head and sliding them on.

“I love you too.” I glanced up at him, biting my lip to stop from laughing. The look on his face was priceless, and as he registered my words – a crooked smiled slowly made its way onto his lips. I had known it in my heart for a while that I love him, it just took some time to actually say the words out loud.

And right now, seemed as good a time as any to let him know.

There was no point in waiting for the right time or the right place. That was never our thing. Our thing was the unexpected and chaos, something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

“You’re going to have to say it again because I don’t think I heard you right.” Ethan cupped his ear, tilting his head down and smirking as he took in my reaction. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I felt an inevitable blush warm my cheeks.

I lifted my hand to smack his arm, but Ethan was quick and had already made his way down the three steps from the front door and onto the driveway. He took the car out of the garage earlier so I could put some stuff in it, but at the sound of a snarky and overly sweet voice a few feet away, perhaps I should’ve just let him keep it inside.

“Well – isn’t this cozy.” Glancing up, I lifted a hand to my forehead to shield my eyes from the sun, but unfortunately, even the bright sunshine wasn’t enough to make Stacy’s lean figure disappear. She was casually leaning against the hood of Ethan’s Porsche, her arms folded across her chest and a coy smirk tugging at the corners of her lips.

Stacy looked like she had just stepped out of Women’s Vogue with her light-washed blue jeans, white knitted sweater, black booties, and a gray wool coat draped over her shoulders. Feeling all of a sudden very self-conscious in my gray sweats and black hoodie, I hung back.

“What are you doing here Stacy?” Ethan practically growled. He had stopped a few feet away from her, his shoulders tense and his tone deadly.

“I’m in town for a conference and I thought I’d stop by and say hello.” She batted her perfectly mascaraed eyelashes at him, reaching out to gently touch his arm. My eyes narrowed in on her hand, and something in me stirred.

“Well you stopped by, you said hello – now you can go.” I don’t know who was more surprised at the words coming out of my mouth – me or Stacy. I had snapped out of my earlier trance and was now standing next to Ethan.

“It’s you again.” Stacy drawled, her eyes scanning me from head to toe.

Do not feel intimidated, McKenzie.

Do not feel intimidated.

So what if you look like you just woke up? At least you’re not someone who can’t take a hint.

“It’s nice to officially meet you,” I flashed her my best fake smile, extending my right hand towards her. She glanced between my hand and Ethan, before finally shaking it. “I’m Ethan’s girlfriend. I’ve heard so much about you.”

Like how you’re a cunning and manipulative bitch, I thought as I continued to smile at her.

“All good, I hope.” Her voice was almost angelic, and if I didn’t know any better, I would have actually thought she was a nice person.

“Nothing but the best.” I clasped my hands in front of me just as I felt Ethan’s hand on my lower back. A fleet of goosebumps appeared, and I pressed myself further against him. Stacy’s gaze narrowed in on the action, and for a brief second, I saw her composure fall and a pang of sadness flash across her face. However, just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone.

“We really do have to go – we’re already behind schedule. So, if you wouldn’t mind moving your car.” I pointed to the white Mercedes Benz parked behind Ethan’s car. Stacy continued to stare at me as if I had grown a second head before her head whipped to the sound of Ethan’s voice.

“Remember our deal, Stacy.” Warning laced his voice as he held her gaze. “Stay away, or I’ll make you pay back every cent.” She stared at him for a few more seconds before blinking. Once she realized that whatever plan she had concurred and hoped to act on while here wasn’t going to work, she all but stomped away and got in her car before driving away.

As soon as Stacy was out of earshot, I turned to Ethan – my glare murderous. “Give me the keys.” I held my hand out in front of him. He glanced between my hand and his keys a few times, but when I placed my hand on my hip and cocked an unimpressed eyebrow at him, he put them in my palm.

“I’m not so sure it’s a good idea for you to drive right now, babe.” He cautiously said, throwing the duffle bag in the trunk. Ignoring him, I opened the driver’s side door and settled into the driver’s seat. The engine purred to life just as Ethan got in.

“I blame you for this,” I grumbled, pulling the seatbelt over my body and clicking it in place. Adjusting the mirrors, I twisted in my seat to shoot him another glare. “If we had just left earlier, this could have been avoided.”

Ethan’s lips pursed, and he raised an eyebrow. “Are you jealous?”

“I am not jealous.” I hissed, irritation lacing my voice.

Okay, maybe I was a little jealous and insecure, but who can blame me.

On the outside, Stacy was the ideal partner. She had beauty and brains. Meanwhile, what did I have to offer? My charming personality and mediocre cooking skills? I’m not saying I have nothing to offer because I like to think I haddone pretty well for myself, but compared to her, I felt small.

“I think you are.” He chuckled, leaning back in his seat and stretching his legs. “I don’t think she’ll be coming around anymore. Not after the way you handled her.”

“Good.” I nodded, a small triumphant smile creeping on my face. Shifting the car into drive, I glanced in the rearview mirror to see that Stacy’s car was already gone. As I pulled out of the driveway, I peeked at Ethan from the corner of my eye and grumbled, “This is still your fault.”

_____________________________________________

Be honest, who saw McKenzie’s I love you coming?

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