Makenna Lewis cringes at any mention of the word commitment. She doesn’t want or need a relationship, but she does like sex (who doesn’t).
That explains Noah, Sean, and Zander, her three ‘friends with benefits’.
They know the score, they know they’re not the only one, and each of them provide her with a different physical need that she craves and enjoys.
Until a late night encounter with the delicious Daniel Winters turns her preconceived notion of no-commitment completely on its head.
Soon she finds herself feeling things she vowed never to feel again, and when Daniel pushes for more than she’s willing to give, she falters.
What do you do when something that you’ve known to be so wrong in the past feels so damn right?
If you’re Mac, you run and hide.
But is Daniel the type of man who takes no for an answer?
I’m sitting on the bed in our dingy one bedroom apartment, having survived another day of living in Dalton, Ohio, without a job, without school, and effectively without a life. I’m waiting for my boyfriend Beau to get home from work. He works as a mechanic at the local garage down the street and usually finishes around 6 p.m. I know he’ll be home soon, even if it is only to check that I’m here waiting for him. He’s always had a slight possessive streak; it used to make me feel wanted and needed, but it seems to have kicked up a notch in the past six months.
Beau and I met in high school in our senior year. He was a late transfer student who started with only a few months left before graduation. He pursued me fervently, and despite my parents being concerned about their somewhat sheltered daughter going out with the neighborhood’s new resident bad boy, we fell in love, and we fell in love hard.
He was known for his trademark black leather jacket and dark blue denim jeans, both of which were his staple wardrobe. He’d occasionally mix it up with a wife beater in the summer, but whenever we were out he’d wear that jacket and a shirt underneath. I don’t remember a day that he ever wore shorts, and the only time I’d see his legs would be in bed. His black hair was worn a bit too long, but he always managed to make it look good. His eyes were a deep aqua blue that could strip you bare with one heated look. Yes, he was THAT guy.
He promised me the world and beyond. We’d park up by the lake and talk of the future, of our lives together and all of the things we could achieve. It was one of those high school romances that you read about. Me being the naïve, somewhat innocent and impressionable eighteen year old girl that I was back then, believed that he could give me the world.
We’d been together for a year when he lost his job in Chicago and I started noticing a change in him. Gone was his ever present smile when we were together; more often than not he would be withdrawn and seemed as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Then, he got a job offer from his Uncle in Dalton, Ohio. He needed a new mechanic and wanted to help Beau out. Beau begged me to go with him; said he loved me and couldn’t bear to live without me.
My parents and my best friend, Kate, were dead against it. They had noticed the change in Beau. They’d never been happy with our relationship, so they weren’t shy at expressing their concerns about moving across a whole other state to live with my “bad boy” boyfriend, and were vehemently against me giving up nursing school to do so.
In the end, Beau used the ace up his sleeve, something I didn’t see coming until it was too late.
He blackmailed me into moving with him.
We were lying in bed one night, having just made love, and I was stuck in the post-coital haze that had my mind thinking of fluffy bunnies and rainbows. He rolled over and brushed the hair out of my face. “I can’t leave you behind, so I’ve decided you’re coming with me, Mac. It’s you and me against the world. I can’t survive without you, baby.”
And just like that, it was decided.
The thing with emotional blackmail is that it is much easier to see what’s happening when you are outside of the situation. When you are at the center of it, you can’t see the wood for the trees.
Despite my deep seated reservations and the increasingly disturbing behavior that Beau was exhibiting towards me, I went with him. I believed a change in scenery would do him good.
About a month after our arrival in Ohio, his possessive streak went into overdrive. He had made a new group of friends from the garage who were all about partying, drinking, smoking weed and having sex. Since Beau had me and was already getting the sex, he dove head first into the drinking and drugs side of that equation. Often staying out for days at a time, or skipping work because he was too hung over.
It has gotten so bad now that I’m starting to think that my sweet, loving boyfriend from high school was all an act. Whenever we are in public, he is all over me, claiming me as his, but behind the closed door of our apartment he can be distant and aloof. When he’s drunk, he berates me and puts me down constantly. He complains that I’m a burden on him and how he works his ass off to support us and I should be more thankful.
So here I am, jobless with no school to keep me occupied, and the only person I’m close to here is Beau. He seems to relish that idea; the idea that I need him and can’t get by without him. Every day he comes home from work and grills me on where I’ve been, who I’ve seen, and what I’ve done that day. I used to take it as a sign of his love for me and the naïve girl that I was still held out hope that I would get my old Beau back.
Things are so bad now that I’ve had to put a screen lock on my cell phone. He’s checking through my messages to see who I’ve been talking to, questioning who has been texting me, and calling me during the day while he’s at work to make sure I’m home. He’s also made it clear that because he’s the one who is working and paying for us to live here; that everything I have is because of him and I should be grateful.
Some nights, when he actually does come home, he’ll berate me. He’ll get right in my face, threatening to throw me out and never see me again; saying that I couldn’t survive without him, and how I shouldn’t even try to say no to him.
I’ve started thinking about ways to escape my life, and to be honest, how to escape from under Beau’s thumb. I don’t want to live here anymore; this is not the life I envisioned for myself when I left high school.
I was born and raised in Chicago. That is where my heart lies, but when you’re young and in love, you’re willing to go anywhere to be with them. That was my idealistic philosophy in the beginning anyway. Before Beau started to change; started to become a hollow shell of the man I first met in high school.
I’m struggling to keep up appearances with Beau now, and I’m finding it near impossible to hide my growing distaste for his possessive streak, his ability to tear me apart with hateful words, and his all-night benders filled with alcohol, weed, and God knows what else.
My problem is that I’m trapped. No friends, no money of my own, no hope of ever escaping. Beau has said a number of times that he’ll never give me up; that I’m his girl. I know he’ll never leave me, either. It will take something major for him to let me go.
As of 4.30 p.m., this afternoon, that something major became the worst news of my life.
As I sat in the free clinic bathroom stalls, watching the cardboard stick slowly show one pink line then another, my plans as I knew them were flushed down the toilet, just like the left over pee in the test cup.
I was in a daze as the doctor explained the need for prenatal care and vitamins I had to take. Congratulating me, when all I wanted to do was breakdown and cry. We’d always taken precautions, me more so than Beau, so I’ve been on the contraceptive injection since leaving Chicago. The last thing I need is to get pregnant, stuck in my soul destroying life with Beau, and living away from my best friend and parents.
Now life has decided that I need one more challenge.
I drove home from the clinic in a daze, a myriad of possibilities running through my head. The doctor, sensing that I was none too happy with this unexpected news, gave me brochures on my different options. Termination or adoption. Then there is option C; staying in my dysfunctional relationship with my possessive, emotionally abusive boyfriend and raising a baby with him. Those are my options.
That is why I’m sitting here on the couch, waiting for the bomb to drop. I can even remember the exact night of conception. It was the night of my twentieth birthday. We’d been out to our local bar, drinking shots of tequila and beer, and dancing to the jukebox in the corner. Beau said that it was my treat since it was my birthday. He’d even invited a couple of his new ‘friends’ to join us. We’d caught a cab home and stumbled in the door. Beau got that tell-tale look in his eye which signaled he was up to no good. Soon, I was bent over the side of the couch, ass in the air, with Beau pounding into me from behind. I was too drunk to fight it, or wonder whether he was using protection or not.
I was too far gone.
A bit like I am now. I’m too far gone to think about this rationally or carefully. I know there are other options, but with Beau Gregory in my life it is not worth even considering.
Beau arrives home late, a few hours after he would have finished work. I can tell that he’s already been drinking by the stench of stale beer that surrounds him as he kisses me long and hard to say hello. He’s only that affectionate when he’s buzzed.
All night I’ve been talking myself into telling him about the baby. I walk over to the couch and sit down.
“Beau, I’ve got something to tell you,” I say, being careful to keep my tone as steady and emotionless as possible.
“What is it, baby?” he asks through half-opened eyes as he lies on the couch across my lap.
You could have heard a pin drop in the time it took for my words to sink in, but as soon as they did, I could see the change in his face. He sits up suddenly, giving me a fright.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” he bellows, jumping off the couch and pacing the room.
“I’m pregnant, about eight weeks,” I say, standing to my feet in front of him, unable to look him in the eye. Why do I feel like this is my fault?
“For fuck’s sake, Mac. I don’t want any bastard kid, not now, and probably not ever. How could you be so stupid?”
Maybe it was the hormones racing through me, or maybe it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back, but suddenly I don’t care what happens or what, if anything, he’s capable of doing to me. I’ve officially hit rock bottom; there’s nowhere left to go other than six feet under, or to fight and get up and out of this mess.
“You’re the one who let this happen,” I say, walking towards him. “You got drunk and didn’t use a fucking rubber!” I poke his chest with my finger, my voice getting louder with every word I spit out at him. “I didn’t realize my contraception had run out early, so if you’re going to blame anyone, blame yourself, Beau Gregory!”
I don’t have time to protect myself from the back handed slap that suddenly lands on my face, knocking me over onto the couch. I instinctually curl up into the fetal position to protect myself, and my stomach, from any further blows.
“Stupid bitch!” I hear him yell behind me as the front door slams. A few moments later I hear his Chevy truck roar to life, the tires squealing in the dirty parking lot as he takes off.
I’d like to say this is the first time he’s hit me, but it’s not. It first happened about a month after we first arrived in Dalton; that was the first sign that I’d made a huge mistake coming here with him.
We were at the bowling alley, and I had gone to get us some drinks. Beau saw me talking to a stranger who was waiting in line behind me, and that was all it took to set him off.
Later that night when we’d gotten home, and with a few too many beers under his belt, he laid into me; asking who the guy was, why was I talking to him, and asking whether I was fucking him behind his back. When I didn’t give him the ‘right answer’, his anger got the better of him and he slapped me across the face. He instantly sobered and spent the rest of the night, and the next week, apologizing profusely to me.
But the damage had already been done.
He promised it would never happen again; that he was just drunk and saw red when he saw me talking to another guy. Things started going downhill after that. Looking back, I should have gotten out then.
After lying on the bed for a few minutes, waiting to be sure he isn’t coming back, I get up and stumble to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I’m shocked at the reflection I see staring back at me. My once smooth, silky, dark brown hair is a tangled mess, my mascara, which was so carefully applied this morning, is now smudged and streaked down my tear stained face, and my cheek is red and puffy from where Beau’s hand struck me.
I see this now broken version of myself in the mirror, and the realization of the situation hits me like a freight train. I know I’m worth more than this. I can’t bring a baby into this world with an abusive father figure. I can’t have this baby. It’s not the time, and this definitely isn’t the place. I need to decide what I’m going to do. As much as it pains me, I wish this baby would disappear; go away and come back another day, at a better time, in a better situation with a better man.
Having climbed into the shower and tidied myself up, I put on some pajamas and crawl into bed. I’ve dead bolted the door because I don’t expect Beau to come home tonight, and if I’m being honest, the thought of sleeping in the same bed as him right now makes my skin crawl.
The last time he hit me, he disappeared for two days, coming back with his tail between his legs and begging me for forgiveness. The difference between that last time and now is that I’m not going to take his shit anymore. I need to come up with a plan, and I need to come up with one fast. I need to reclaim myself, my identity, my freaking backbone that I used to be known for.
It’ll have to blindside him. I can’t let him see it coming, or else I won’t be able to pull it off.
I need my best friend to help me. I need Kate now.
I fall asleep, content with my new resolution, my hand on my stomach, praying to God that he can find a way to help me.
I wake up in agony, folded over as pain rips through me. I look at the clock radio beside the bed and see it’s barely 5 a.m. It wasn’t daylight that woke me up; it was the stabbing sensation in my stomach and an aching sore back. As another wave of pain sweeps through me, I feel a wet sensation between my legs.
Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, no.
This can’t be happening.
I cup myself between my legs as I jump out of bed and race to the bathroom, pulling my pants down. I see blood everywhere. I know what this is; I don’t need to go to the hospital. I’ve seen enough women come through during my hospital observation shifts with similar symptoms. This is not light spotting which can be considered normal in early pregnancy. This is a miscarriage. My baby is gone.
I turn the shower on and discard my soiled pants, throwing my top off as I hop into the cold shower, not waiting for it to warm up. I look down and see the red tinged water wash down the plug hole. I’m hit with a wave of regret, of loss, then suddenly overwhelming guilt. Deep down, it’s like I wanted this to happen; somehow I willed it to become reality. I slide down the wall of the shower and cradle my arms around my legs as I start to cry, sitting there for what seems like an eternity. I cry for the baby that I lost, for how trapped I am in this life, for the man that Beau has become, and finally, for everything that should have been but wasn’t. I stay there until the water runs cold, and I’m a shivering mess on the shower floor. Most of the blood has washed away now. All I feel is empty and free.
And guilty that I’m relieved that God chose this path for me.
I get out of the shower and get dressed, I grab my phone and call my best friend, knowing that if I’m going to do it, now is the only chance I’m going to get to escape this life and leave Beau.
“Kate, it’s Mac. I need a ticket home, today,” I spit out, my voice still shaky from spending the last hour crying.
“About freaking time, babe. Pack your stuff, go to the airport, and I’ll see you soon.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Mac. I’m so glad you’re coming home. Everything is going to be okay.”
I grab whatever I can and stuff it into the two suitcases I have in the closet. I check that I’ve got only what I need, then carry the bags to the front door. I take my key off my key ring and place it on the kitchen counter. I take one last look around the empty room that has been my home for the past six months. Scratch that, I can’t even say it’s been a home. A home is full of love, and warmth, and for the past five months it’s been full of lies, deceit and if I’m going to be honest, fear.
“Goodbye, Beau Gregory,” I whisper as I click the lock and pull the door closed behind me.
Walking away from this life, I make a vow to myself; never again will my life be dictated by a man, and never again will I let love lead me astray.
But as I’ll soon find out not four years later, vows are made to be broken.
Four Years Later
I’m on my way home after finishing a shift at the hospital. I’m just getting comfortable and texting Kate, when I drop my phone. Of course, it had to slide down the train away from me. Thankfully, being 8 p.m., the cab isn’t too full. Just as I’m about to get up and search the floor in a desperate last attempt to regain my life, hey, my phone is my life, don’t judge, I see him.
As luck would have it, my phone hit a strange man’s black loafer clad foot, and when I look up, I see said man making his way towards me. This man is sex on legs delicious. I totally clocked him when he got on the train at the stop after me. I’m amazed that I’m even coherent enough to notice anyone, given that I’m at the end of an eight hour day shift where I was rushed off my feet. I’m dog tired, but my mind is restless, wired, and you guessed it, horny.
Noah has been on a training course for the week, so there has been no chance of any on-call room hook ups, Sean has been out of town for business for the past few days, and Zander has had back to back bookings all week. It’s just been me, my trusty rabbit who, as luck would have it, has run out of juice, or option number three, this delectable man who is now walking towards me.
Ding, Ding, Ding! I pick door number three.
He just doesn’t know it yet.
He’s wearing a granite colored suit, the jacket hanging over his arm which is carrying a black leather briefcase. His white dress shirt has the sleeves rolled up, and he’s obviously finished work for the day because his top two buttons are undone, giving a slight glimpse of a tanned and toned chest that you just want to lick. I’m in businessman fantasy heaven, and he is being delivered to me on a plate, or in this case, a rattly, somewhat dirty, Chicago train.
But beggars can’t be choosers.
He’s totally caught me staring at him, his pearly white smile growing on his gorgeous face as he gets closer. I give him a slightly embarrassed, yet cute smile back, knowing that I’ve been caught checking him out. He holds his hand out to me when he reaches my seat, and being the socially awkward idiot that I am, I put my hand out to shake his, feeling absolutely mortified when I realize that he was only trying to hand my phone back.
“Sorry, is this your phone? It slid down the floor from this direction, and you’re one of the only people on the train without a phone or an e-reader in your hand, so I’m taking a lucky guess,” he says with a sly grin, thankfully not laughing at my social ineptitude.
“Yeah, that’ll be mine. Sorry to make you come all the way down here,” I reply, an uncontrollable blush creeping up my cheeks.
“Hey, it’s no problem. I don’t mind being given an excuse to talk to a beautiful stranger, on the L, at night, alone…”
His words are calculated. He somehow has managed to compliment me at the same time as chastising me for traveling alone on the L at night. Now that is talent! I feel a chill run up my spine at the sheer presence of this man.
“Makenna Lewis, but everyone calls me Mac,” I say, this time actually holding my hand out to shake his.
He looks down at my outstretched hand and drags piercing caramel colored eyes down my scrub clad body, his jaw twitching as he returns his gaze back to my face.
“Daniel Winters,” he replies, taking my hand in his and shaking it once while very deliberately dragging his hand slowly from mine, running the length of my fingers as he pulls away. I bite my lip as warm tingles travel from my fingers and up my arms, then shoot right down to my girly bits.
Holy hell, he’s got game, and it’s a game I want to play!
This man leaves Zander in his wake, and Zander is a professional stripper who gets paid to flirt.
“Where are you headed tonight? Have you just finished work, or just starting?” he asks, reaching up to hold on to the cabin’s overhead rail while he looks down at me with a raised eyebrow. That move brings my attention to his tailored shirt tightening over his toned biceps, and then I see it. It’s like my eyes are homing beacons looking for the slightest hint of skin. A small part of his shirt has come loose at his waist and has ridden up, giving me a glimpse of a tight set of abs and the smallest smattering of hair leading a trail south below his waistband. Lord knows I’m a sucker for tight abs and a happy trail.
C’mon, Mac, get it together, you’re drooling, and he’s waiting for an answer.
“Ah work, yeah, I just finished my shift at Northwestern,” I mutter, shaking my head to get rid of thoughts of him shirtless, and in my bed.
“Ah, a doctor then?” he asks with a smile.
“I’m a nurse in the ICU,” I answer back, the now stupid grin on my face getting wider as we sit there, smiling at each other.
“And how about you? Let me guess…a lawyer? No, wait, maybe an accountant? Nope, not that either. My last answer is undertaker.” I tilt my head and give him a returning ‘What’cha got for me now’ look.
He laughs and I literally stop breathing.
All of Daniel’s physical attributes are already measuring mighty high on the Makenna scale of hotness, but that laugh…the low baritone timbre that can stop wars, solve world hunger, and cure women of their need for underwear all at the same time…it is the work of the devil. I swear to God, all he’d have to do is lie there and laugh all day, and I swear I could sit on his chest and get off.
“I’m a stockbroker,” he finally tells me, leaning in and putting his spare arm on the back of my seat. “And I guess none of my sexy nurse jokes will win me any favors with you either, right?” I notice a slight upwards curl of his lips, and realize that he’s not only sexy and has a laugh that could make a nun horny, but he’s funny too.
“Probably not, but you never know your luck in the big city,” I muse.
He nods in agreement. “Duly noted.”
“So, you like to play with money then.” I can’t believe I’m being so blatant with this man. He smirks, and wouldn’t you know it, out come the dimples. Freaking adorable, cute as all hell divots on either side of his cheeks, dimples!
They’re going to be my downfall.
“I like playing with other people’s money,” he murmurs. His eyes have gone dark now.
“Sounds like fun. What else do you like to do?” Holy shit, Mac! Why don’t you just hump his leg already? Damn, I must need some sleep, or some rabbit relief, or something. I look down and blush again. I may talk a good game, but my blush always gives my self-conscious side away.
“Lots of things.” He pauses for a moment, long enough for me to look back up into those gorgeous eyes of his. My breath hitches when I see him looking back at me like I’m water and he’s dying of thirst. “Candlelit dinners, long walks…sex on the beach…”
He smiles as he says that last thing, especially when my eyes go wide.
Confidence simply exudes from him; he’s sure of himself, but not in an overly cocky way. But lord knows that I really want to know what he could do to me and vice versa.
“How about we start with my bed?” I say with a sexy smile and a wink.
And that is how I met Daniel Winters.
I love reading, and started writing my first novel, Lost in Distraction in December 2012. Before that I’d written business and website articles professionally but never fiction. I love the indie community, authors, bloggers and readers alike and have met so many awesome people that I now call dear friends.
I’m a huge music lover as well. I REALLY love music. If there isn’t music playing, something is wrong. And it’s a wide range of music too, I might surprise you with my eclectic tastes.
I’m also a wife, mother of two gorgeous girls and currently working for myself as well as studying full time to become an accountant of all things. I also have a Bachelor of Communications.
My author inspirations are: Michelle Leighton, Barbara Elsborg and Kristen Ashley.