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Authors: Jeanne McDonald

The Certainty of Deception

BOOK: The Certainty of Deception
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 Jeanne McDonald

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author.

Visit the author’s website at
www.jeannemcdonald.com

First Edition: July 2014

Edited by: Amy Gamache with Rose David Editing

Cover Design by: Jada D’Lee Designs

Book Formatting by: Jo Matthews with Written Elegance

Cover image by: InnervisionArt via Shutterstock

ISBN-13: 978-1311410603

For Penny:

Thank you for all of your love and encouragement.

I love you, my friend.

Prologue

“It’s about time you picked up the phone.  I’ve been calling for days.”

“So?”  My response expressed my exact feelings.  I didn’t care.

“So, I can’t keep covering for you.  Dad’s been asking where you are.  Mom says you won’t return her calls.  Clients are complaining that you’re avoiding them, and please, for the love
of God, tell me this crap that Olivia’s telling Morgan is B.S.. She’s not pregnant, is she?” Gavin rattled.

“She is,” I slurred, my gut clenching in agony.  It was hard to admit that the one thing I really wanted to be a lie was, in fact, the truth.

“Fuck,” my brother breathed. 

“Yup.”

With a bottle in hand, I lifted myself up off my cold bedroom floor, stumbling in the process.  I reached for the bed to steady myself, nearly dropping my cell phone.  “Dammit,” I groaned.  It was either the phone or the bottle and I wasn’t about to lose the bottle.  It was my escape; even if it didn’t drown out the ache in my chest. 

“Jesus, Drew, are you drunk?”

“Duh!” I exclaimed, tapping the tip of my nose, as if Gavin could see me.

The room was spinning.  The metallic taste on my tongue urged me to expunge the contents of my stomach.  Instead, I gulped down the remainder of the bottle, tossed it to the floor, and watched as it shattered into a million pieces.  Half standing, half squatting, I rested my hand on the corner of my bed, steadying myself.  When I knew I was stable enough, I stumbled to the nightstand and grabbed my keys.  The sound of glass crunched under the soles of my shoes.

“Little brother, you can’t do this again.”

I hesitated, afraid of losing my balance, “Do what?”

“Lose yourself.  I can’t watch you go down this road again.”

“This isn’t like before.  I’m in complete control.”

“You don’t sound like it.”

The room continued to spin.  I braced myself against the doorjamb to keep from toppling over.  “I am, but I can’t lose her!” I cried, rubbing my hand over my face.  “My fault.  All my fault.”  Twisting the doorknob, I stumbled out of the bedroom toward the stairs. “She’s leaving for Texas, and I have to stop her.”

“What?  Who’s leaving for Texas?”

“Mickie!” I bellowed.  “She’s leaving.”  I rubbed my hand over my face in frustration. “I’ve got to stop her!  She can’t leave me.”

“Olivia’s friend?” he asked, clearly confused.

“Not Olivia’s friend.  My girl.  She’s my girl.  Not Olivia’s.”  My stomach gurgled, reminding me that the liquor was wreaking havoc on my insides.

Gavin was silent, but I could hear each breath he took.  “You and McKenzie,” he whispered.  “I should’ve known.”  He exhaled.  “Drew, listen to me, we can fix this.  I’ll help you, but you have to tell me everything.”

“No time.  Must stop her
,” I hiccupped, “from leaving.”

“Okay.  Do me a favor.  Don’t go anywhere.  I’ll be right there.”

I lurched forward, almost falling flat on my face.  “Too late.” 

“Dammit, Drew! Don’t you dare drive like this.  Either wait for me, or go get Wyatt, but promise me you won’t drive like this.”

“Stop her, I must,” I laughed like Yoda, but it came out sounding more like Fozzy the Bear.

“Really?  You’re imitating Yoda at a time like this?”

“One with the force, I am.” 

Gavin groaned, “I’m on my way.  Just stay put.”

My laughter disappeared.  “No!” I screamed, floundering down the stairs.  “I told you, I have to stop her. I need her.  I love her!”

Everything around me seemed to stop moving.  Even the drunken spinning of the room came to a complete halt.  I was clear-headed when it came to this point.  McKenzie couldn’t leave me.  I needed her.  What I was about to face was hell, and without her, well, I knew I’d do more than fall off the wagon.  Through the phone, I could hear the sound of a car door slamming shut and an engine firing up.  Gavin was in fact on his way.

“Drew, I’m serious.  Stay where you are.  I’ll be there in a few minutes.  If you’re going to see McKenzie, I’m coming with you.  I refuse to let you drive like this.  After we’re done there, we’ll get you help.”

“I don’t need help!” I yelled.  “I need her.”

The roar of the engine flowed through the phone as I continued to topple down the stairs.

“You love her?”  Gavin sounded shocked by that fact.  Not that I was surprised by his reaction.  I’d sworn I’d never love again.  Love sucks.  It kicks you in the balls when you’re down.  McKenzie wasn’t supposed to happen.  I wasn’t supposed to fall in love again, and I
definitely never intended to get Olivia pregnant. 

To make matters worse, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had sex with Olivia.  According to her, we screwed around during our last real date night, but I couldn’t tell you if that was true or not. 
All I remember of that night was I went out with Olivia, fully intending on breaking things off with her.  My day alone with McKenzie made me realize I couldn’t continue with Olivia when I had feelings developing for McKenzie.  Unfortunately, my plans were foiled.   Before we walked out the door, Olivia made an offhand comment about McKenzie spending the night with Jared.  I lost it.  Not that I had any reason to be pissed.  It wasn’t as if McKenzie and I were together, but I couldn’t handle the thought of Jared touching her, making love to her.  It ate at me.  Alcohol was the only way I knew how to expunge those dark feelings.  So, for the second time in days, I broke my two years of sobriety, and I drank.

“I love her,” I muttered, rubbing my hand over my face.

“All right, little brother.  We’re going to fix this.  I’m almost there.  We’ll go to her.”

My foot touched the bottom step.  I sighed in relief.  How I managed to make it down the stairs without breaking my neck or any other bone in the process was a complete miracle. 

Comforted by my brother’s promise, I sat down on the bottom step and swayed.  The motion seemed to steady my stomach.

“Drew?  You still there?”

“Yeah.”

“I know you answered this already, but is Olivia telling the truth?  Is she really pregnant?”

“Yep,” my lips popped.

“Is it yours?”

“To whom else could it belong to?”

“I don’t know. It just,” Gavin sighed, “it doesn’t feel right.”

“Oh, it’s right.  Only I could screw things up this badly.”

Gavin sighed.  There was nothing he could say.  This wasn’t my first major fuck up, and it most likely wouldn’t be my last.

While waiting for my brother, I laid back on the stairs, staring up at the ceiling.  I wasn’t drunk enough to blackout, but man, how I wanted to be.  At least if I was in an amnesia state, I could forget how much of a mess I’d made of things, as I had so many times before.

Gavin’s quick breathing and the sound of the engine comforted me.  I closed my eyes.  A single tear trickled down my cheek, and I let it.  I had no strength to fight it. 

“Drew, I’m at the gate.  Can you meet me at the front door?”

“Yeah.”  I clambered to my feet.  The room started spinning again, but I was determined.  I couldn’t let her leave. 

“Okay, I’m pulling up now.  Let’s go get your girl back.”

I stumbled toward the front door, throwing it open.  Gavin’s black Escalade pulled up, just as he said.  He rolled down the window.  I knew I was fucked up, but the look on Gavin’s face screamed volumes about my appearance. 

“Thanks, Gav.  You’re always rescuing me.”

A sad smile tilted his thin lips.  “That’s what brothers are for.”

“Jesus Christ, Drew! Let me stop the car before you jump out!” Gavin yelled, grabbing at my shirt.  But he was too late.  I was already out of my seat belt and falling from the car.  My feet hit the ground followed by my ass.  That didn’t deter me though.  I managed to get my drunk self off of the ground and stumbled to her apartment.  All of the lights were on, so I knew she was in there.

I banged on the door, full of determination and rum.  If she would only talk to me, we could work things out.  I didn’t love Olivia.  I could never love Olivia
.  So what if she was carrying my bastard child; I’d take care of the mess I made.  Olivia and the baby would never want or need for anything, but that didn’t mean Mickie had to leave.  We were prepared to tell Olivia everything.  We still could, but McKenzie had to stay!

“Mickie!” I screamed.

“Go away, Drew,” she shouted back through the door.

“Not until you see me,” I slurred.  “I love you.  You can’t leave me.” 

I leaned toward the door, my hands resting on each side of the frame.  I hung my head, hoping to alleviate the spinning that was beginning to overwhelm me.

“Don’t make this harder than it has to be,” she pleaded.

The world felt as if it was moving under my feet.  It was spinning around and around, taking me with it.  My hands gripped the frame tighter in an effort to steady myself. 

I glanced down at my appearance and rolled my eyes in annoyance.  I should’ve changed before coming to see the woman I loved.  My shirt was wrinkled.  There were a few pinhead holes near the bottom where I had twisted and pulled on the fabric.  My jeans were tattered and dirty.  I was a complete mess.  No wonder Gavin had given me such a strange look when he picked me up.

“Mickie, I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I’m begging you.  Please don’t leave me.”

I’d made a terrible mistake by avoiding everyone, especially McKenzie, after Olivia’s announcement, but that didn’t mean she had to move away.  We could work things out.  I’d tell her everything.  I’d tell her about Rebecca and Autumn.  Very few people knew about them, and if she’d give me the chance, I’d add
her to that list. 

Losing my daughter was the biggest tragedy of my life.  To this day, I blamed myself for what happened to her.  It was my fault she died, and that was a burden I’d carry with me until my dying day. 

Tears welled in my eyes.  I tilted my face upward looking into the peephole, as if I could see her through it.  Lost and scared, everything I held dear in my life was about to jet off to Texas and leave me forever.

“Drew, please, go away.  I’ve made up my mind.  I’m sorry, but there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”  Her voice was thick with tears, making my already aching heart break wide open.

Warm hands wrapped around my shoulders.  “Little brother, she doesn’t want to see you.  Let’s get out of here.”  

I laid my head against the cool wood of her door, and shut my eyes, ignoring my brother’s request.  The night wind whistled all around me.  The longer I stood in the chill of the evening air, the more aggravated I became.  She had no right to leave me.  So what if I secluded myself from everyone for several days.  That meant nothing.  She was going to let me in, and we were going to fix this.

With renewed determination, I slammed my fist hard into the door.  “God dammit, Mickie.  Open the fucking door.  I can’t live without you.  Can’t you see that?”

“If you really care for me, you’ll go away,” she wept.

“All I’m asking is for a few minutes. Let me see you, please.  I need you, Mickie.”

“I can’t.”  Each breath she took became more jagged.

“Drew, seriously.  We need to go before someone calls the cops.”  Gavin tugged on my shoulders, trying to pry me away from the door. 

BOOK: The Certainty of Deception
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