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Authors: Bijou Hunter

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BOOK: In the Wind
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Chapter 7

Sawyer

Who Made Who

With his shoulder length locks, Jace looks more like a surfer dude than a biker. I once knew this man with all my heart, yet he's a stranger now. His face is harder, less expressive. He now possesses the eyes of an enforcer, showing me nothing
. Until he smiles at me.

Despite missing him over the last months, I roll my eyes and look away. The day he dumped me, Jace said the one thing he hoped was we could remain friends. I had no control over whether he loved me or would stay with me. However, I did have the power to deny him this one damn thing. No way was I staying his friend. Not nine months ago, not now, not ever.

"This is nice," Colbie says, patting Jace's hand and making really intense eye contact with him. "Do you see how good I am at engaging with people now?"

Colbie's speaking to Bodie who glances at Zane. "Did she say people or peons?"

Zane grins, but doesn't answer. I suspect the three of them are talking mentally again. Jace waits for someone to speak, and I see a hint of confusion when the siblings nod at an unspoken detail. If he was anyone else, I might explain. My broken ego refuses to give him an inch. I gave him too much already when I let myself trust him.

"So you two used to be friends," Zane says. "I was friends first with Yesenia."

The twins roll their eyes in unison and Bodie nudges me. "Zane thinks he's the first person to ever fall in love. Hell, this isn't even
his
first time falling in love."

"Those didn't count. Yesenia is a good woman."

"And the others were shit?" I grumble.

"Yeah," Colbie says, and Bodie nods quickly. "The one before smelled like a urinal cake. Another one had worms."

"Honest to goodness worms," Bodie adds. "I don't even want to imagine how she got them."

"Probably from dog sex," Colbie says.

"Hush," Mama May Dee admonishes from the stove. "That's not proper discussion for mealtime."

"We're sorry," Colbie says, "Zane's shitty sex life has led to these horrible lunch topics."

Mama May Dee waves her hand dismissively before leaving the kitchen.

"Where are you staying?" Colbie asks Jace.

My stomach leaps into my throat. "He can't stay here."

"Are you sure? I do love cat fights."

I hold Jace's gaze, daring him to stay at the house. He stares back, showing me nothing. Bodie stares at her sister, silently discussing something. I want to believe their conversation is over my panic, but I sense they're talking about the fries.

"Even without ketchup," Colbie says suddenly then turns to Jace. "You should stay at the Love Hut. That's where I plan to lose my virginity. I'll be sure to email you when it happens."

"Sounds great. Who's the special guy?"

"I don't know."

A moment passes where Colbie daydreams about her first lover while I glare at mine.

"I'm staying at the Hampton Inn."

"Good deal, but can you afford a hundred a day? I mean, you're poor, right?"

"I'm not poor."

"Are you sure?" Bodie asks.

"Compared to you, yeah, but I can pay for the hotel room."

"Allow us to pick up the tab. It's the least we can do after I shot you in the ass last night."

"I shot him in the ass," Bodie corrects.

"Nope."

"Actually, I wasn't shot in the ass. I did get a few hits to the hip though."

"Did it hurt?" I ask.

"A little."

"I hope you're in agonizing pain."

Ignoring my anger, Zane asks, "So are you two going to hang out and reminisce while we nap?"

Jace and I share a moment where we both acknowledge the siblings are living in a different reality. He nearly gives me a smile until I narrow my eyes at him.

"Forever then?" he asks.

"What?"

"You're planning to hold the grudge forever."

"Only until I die."

"So if I die first, you'll still be pissed."

"What do you mean by
if
?"

"Ooh," Colbie says, winking at Bodie. "Feel that sexual chemistry."

"You couldn't say that shit in your heads like the stuff about the fries?" I grumble at them.

Bodie smiles. "The reality is we can do whatever we want. So to answer your question, yes, we choose to be rude. Feel free to take that personally too."

Pissed at how the day is turning out, I stand up and prepare to storm from the room.

"Hey, it's not my place to interfere with your tantrum," Bodie says, leaning back in her chair, "but we're having pie for dessert. Just wanted to make sure you know what you're missing."

I roll my eyes while Zane smiles at his sister. "You have a sweetness that can't be replicated."

"Hey!" Colbie cries. "I'm right here."

"I know. Feel free to take that personally."

Seeing how they're ignoring me and having some kind of sibling fight, I storm from the kitchen.
Apple pie be damned!

"See you at dinner," Jace says with his mouth full of fries.

"Fuck off!" I scream.

Much like when I freak out at home, my anger elicits laughter rather than fear. I stomp past the dogs who growl at me. Up the stairs to the second floor, I hurry into my room and slam the door. Throwing myself on the bed, I know I'm being childish, but I can't shake the rage I feel at seeing Jace again.

Back in Ellsberg, he kept his distance, so I only saw him in passing. When he entered a room, I worked quickly to leave it. If I had to be around him like at a family function, I maneuvered myself to prevent us from having to speak. I was friends with his sisters Winnie and Harlow. He was a member of my family's motorcycle club. We existed in the same world, but avoided breathing the same air. When he dumped me, he tore my heart out, and I hated him for making me feel so low.

Now, he's taking over my new life, and I hate him all over again.

Chapter 8

Jace

Simple Man

Sawyer's tantrum leaves me stuck at a table with three strangers who I suspect view me as no more important than a bug. A part of me keeps hoping Zane will stop looking at his phone and do a little male bonding. Anything to distract from the identical women dissecting me with their deceptively pretty gazes.

"Why did you dump Sawyer?" Colbie asks because like the Johansson women she lacks a filter.

"It's complicated."

"No, it's not. It never is. Like when Zane dumped his girlfriend who was eaten by dogs. She left us to die, and he can't be with a woman who's disloyal."

"Technically," Bodie says, "she dumped him when she ran off."

"You'd think but no."

Bodie and Zane share a grin while Colbie returns to making her point.

"When Zane dumped the girl with worms, it was because she was gross and we made him. See how simple those reasons are? Now, share yours for dumping the gentle flower upstairs."

"I was young."

The siblings share a gaze, and I know my answer doesn't satisfy. If I wasn't a grown man, I'd run out of this house right now. A kid knows to be afraid and never thinks about looking cool. A man needs to hold his head up and stare into the eyes of weird people like these.

"So you're saying dumping her was a youthful mistake?" Bodie asks.

Yes, I think but don't dare say.

"No, what I'm saying is Sawyer was my first girlfriend, and I wasn't ready for that kind of commitment," I mumble, hoping my relationship jargon satisfies them.

"So you were horny for other women," Zane states, giving me a nod like we're friends now.

"That makes you look like an asshole. No offense since I don't think you know you're an asshole," Colbie says. "I mean, you are though. You're a giant asshole who breaks girls' hearts because you wanted to stick your dick in a new hole."

"She's paraphrasing," Bodie murmurs.

"It's not really any of your business why we broke up."

"You'd think that. So many people think stuff isn't our business. Then, after a sufficient amount of convincing, they realize they're wrong."

"Are you threatening me?" I growl, glaring at Colbie.

Smiling, she nods. "I like when you get all pissy. Looks good on you. So why did you dump Sawyer? You didn't really just want another hole, did you? I want to like you, but that's a schmuck move."

With the three of them watching me, I struggle against the urge to squirm. I look over my shoulder to find Mama May Dee standing nearby, waiting for my answer. Hell, even the dogs are staring at me.

"I don't know."

"No, you really don't," Bodie says, standing up. "Don't feel bad about the inquisition. We ask people shit all the time."

"You must be popular at parties," I mutter.

"People never complain. Wanna guess why?"

"Because you're crazy fuckers?"

Bodie grins. "Yeah, that's about it."

Standing up, Colbie and Zane carry their plates to the kitchen. Bodie follows them. Watching the siblings, I wonder if they share a hive mind. Or maybe they're so rich, they don't think to behave normally.

I'm so desperate for a normal reaction that I look to the dog for reassurance. The Doberman stares back at me without a hint of pity.

The siblings walk outside and the indifferent dog hurries after them. While they sit outside in the hot sun, I remain in the kitchen. Mama May Dee cleans up and leaves without speaking a word to me.

I wait for nearly an hour for Sawyer to return. When she doesn't, I decide to leave once the siblings walk inside. Colbie mentions they'll see me at Dust Harbor for dinner. I thank her for lunch, but she's busy curling up on a couch.

Driving away, I think about the day I ended things with Sawyer. My reasoning feels alien now, but I was certain back then. For all these months, I believed we were better off apart. I never asked myself why. Every time I missed Sawyer, I pretended I understood why I left her. Now, I feel stupid.

Did I think dumping Sawyer would make me better in Cooper's eyes?
He never seemed too bummed about us breaking up.
Had my need to fit in and find acceptance led me to fuck up the best thing I had?

Or was I just a loser?
Stupid men make stupid decisions.
Did I mess things up with Sawyer because I felt unworthy or because I felt she was unworthy? How could I not know why even after all this time?

Until the day I left Sawyer, I was seeing the same therapist I'd worked with since the Todds adopted me. I stopped seeing him, telling Mom I didn't need a shrink anymore. In reality, I was afraid of what he'd tell me when I explained I'd left the woman I loved. Better for me to live in denial than hear the awful truth.

For nine months, I successfully embraced a plan of not dealing with my actions. Now in Texas for less than two days, I find this strategy slipping out of my grasp.

Chapter 9

Sawyer

Little Honey

Hiding upstairs until I hear Jace's Harley roaring away, I peer out of the blinds to make sure he's really leaving. I relax slightly, yet my chest hurts. He was once my friend. Now, I hate him. Even sad over how everything turned out, I refuse to feel guilty for making him feel like shit. If he hadn't left me, I would have loved him forever.

Downstairs, I find the siblings napping in the large family room. The dogs sleep too with only Bodie's cat licking his ass in the otherwise quiet room.

I move through the house, looking for someone to distract me from the emptiness in my heart. In a smaller living room, Mama Hilde snores on the couch. When we first met, the Greek nanny said she would pray for my hair.

Nearby, a snoring JJ stretches out in a La-Z-Boy. Snuggled in the chair, his wiener dog snores too.

I find no one else awake in the quiet house. Part of me wants to explore this expansive property, but another part is afraid to get lost in the labyrinth. Returning to my bedroom, I remain restless.

Before Jace showed up, I saw a chance to dig my way out of the grief from losing Pop. Now, I'm stuck missing my father while hating my first love.

I dial my phone without thinking. Bailey answers on the second ring.

"How's your vacation?" my sister asks.

"I'm not on vacation. I'm moving here."

"Okay."

"How are the boys?" I ask, imagining Bailey's three sons with her too sweet for her husband Nick.

"They miss you."

"Really?"

"No. Why would they?"

"Why say that then?" I mutter.

"I was trying to be nice."

"Try harder."

"I hear Texas has lots of weirdoes."

"Look in the mirror."

Bailey laughs. "I am, and the view is fabulous!"

Her arrogance soothes me, and I laugh too. "I miss you."

"I miss you too. It's weird, but I feel like the bitch level has fallen frighteningly low since you left."

"Well, I'm not coming back. No matter what Cooper says."

"Yeah, he's freaking out. I told him that you were on vacation, like Mom on her cruise. He says you shouldn't be alone."

"So he sent Jace."

"At least, you have someone sexy to look at."

"Bitch."

"It's been almost a year."

"If a guy dumped you, would you let it go?"

"Lots of guys dumped me."

"Yeah, I know."

Bailey says nothing for a minute. "Bitch."

"I need you to talk Cooper into changing his mind about Jace. I don't want him here."

"That's the plan, I'm sure. He figures you'll come home to get away from Jace playing shadow."

"I'm
not
coming home."

"Why?"

"Ellsberg sucks without Pop."

"True," she says, and I hear the sadness in her voice. "I miss him too."

"I like it here."

"The McLaughlins are rich. They probably have a lot of fun too. I don't blame you for wanting to hang out there, but it's a short term fix."

"Fix for what?"

"For the pain. No matter how long or far you run, Sawyer, you'll never escape the loss." When I say nothing, she continues, "I forget he's gone sometimes. During the day when the boys and I run around town or we're swimming with Nick, I feel free. I even find myself thinking to call Pop or how we'll see him that weekend. Then, I remember, and the pain comes back. There's no escaping it. Even if you go slumming in Texas, you'll still suffer from what we lost."

I know she's right. Our relationship has come a long way from when she drove me crazy, and I made Bailey tear out her hair.

"I don't want to ruin this beautiful mood," I say, sighing, "but when you act sensitive, it makes me want to vomit."

"You and me both, sister."

Our laughter relaxes me. "I know you're right about Pop. I don't want to forget him. I never want him to be only a memory. In town, everyone goes on as if life is normal. Here, no one cares about Pop, so I don't get pissed about them being happy."

"I'll talk to Cooper, but it won't do any good. His way of dealing with Pop being gone is to keep everyone super close. He freaked out when Farah didn't call exactly when he thought she would. He doesn't want the kids to leave the yard. He even worries about idiot Tucker, so you know he's off his fucking rocker."

Even laughing quietly, I feel my depression growing. "I should go. I'll call you soon."

"I know you're a tough bitch, and I know the McLaughlins are rich but be careful. You're not thinking straight, and they're supposed to be nuts. Not a great mix. I mean, I'd love to watch a train wreck if you weren't involved. I love you. You know, because I have to."

"Right back at you. I'll watch my back."

"Or Jace can."

"Bitch."

"I didn't want you to miss me too much, so I figured we'd end the call on an angry note."

Hanging up on Bailey, I figure she'll view the dial tone as a win. I set down my phone and peer out the blinds again. Jace is long gone, but I stare at the road as if hoping he'll return. I'll never stop hating him for hurting me. I miss him though, and I probably always will.

Fully depressed now, I crawl under the top blanket in the comfy bed and embrace the McLaughlin naptime tradition. Later tonight, I'll face Jace again. If I want to see him without bursting into tears or ripping out his eyes, I really should get a few hours rest.

BOOK: In the Wind
7.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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