By SARA MACK
Copyright © 2015 Sara Mack
All Rights Reserved
First Kindle Edition: 2015
Cover art by Cover to Cover Designs
Photograph by Mandy Hollis of MH Photography
Edited by Red Ribbon Editing Services
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products listed in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
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Table of Contents
Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two
Chapter Twenty Three
Chapter Twenty Four
Chapter Twenty Five
Chapter Twenty Six
Chapter Twenty Seven
Chapter Twenty Eight
Epilogue ~ One Year Later
Dean McCarthy and the Union ~ Set List
About the Author
Do you know what I hate?
Having the rug pulled out from under me.
I also hate the sinking feeling my stomach gets when something bad happens. I hate when panic sets in, and the back of my neck breaks out in a cold sweat. I hate the feeling I might throw up at any minute, and I hate that I always fall for lies.
Fuck you, Ross. I mean, Derek.
Reaching for one of the earrings he gave me, I rip it out of my ear. “Thanks a lot asshole!” I throw it at him and it bounces off his chest. I grab the other earring and do the same. “You’re a real piece of work, you know that?” I get in his face. “Why the fake name? Were you worried you’d get caught? Karma sure is a funny bitch.”
“I don’t have time for you right now,” my married boyfriend snaps.
“Perfect!” I yell. “Because I don’t have any more time for you.” I start to walk away, then stop. “I suggest you leave before the Dayton brothers kick your ass.” My ex, Kyle, and his brother, Kevin, look ready for a fight.
I almost make it to the other side of the room before I hear a fist connect with a jaw. Staring straight ahead, I keep walking and try to calm my racing pulse. When I make it to the dance floor, I pick up my guitar; before all hell broke loose, Kyle and I had just finished playing a song for Kevin’s wedding. I send a silent message to my friends: Sorry about the additional entertainment, guys.
After I put my acoustic back in its case, I decide leaving now would be my best option. I feel tears coming on, and I don’t get those often. Keeping my head down, I make a beeline for the door. Unfortunately, Kevin is on his way back from disposing of Derek, and he intercepts me. He places a hand on each of my shoulders to stop me from walking.
“Jen.” He tries to catch my eyes. “Where are you going?”
“Home,” I say. “I don’t want your night ruined any more than it has been.”
“C’mon.” He squeezes my shoulders. “My night isn’t ruined. Yours shouldn’t be either; that guy’s a prick. You deserve better.”
I force a smile. I’ve been friends with Kevin for the last five years, after I accidentally rear-ended his car when mine slid on ice. “Don’t try to sugarcoat it. My romantic life is in the toilet.” He should know. He set me up with his brother, Kyle, and that relationship lasted three years before it tanked.
Kevin grimaces. “You don’t have to leave.”
“I know, but I need to.”
Just then, Kyle and Addison walk up to us. My eyes bounce from Kyle’s swollen cheek to Addison’s pale complexion. She must be traumatized because Kyle got hit and her husband’s a bigger dick than she thought. “I don’t know what to say,” I tell her. “I didn’t know.”
“It’s okay.” She looks sympathetic. “He gave you his middle name. Even if he was honest, what were the odds of your Derek being the same as mine?”
I feel the need to tell her everything I know. Maybe it’s to assuage my own guilt; I’m not sure. “We met on New Year’s Eve, but he didn’t call for months,” I say. “We’ve been seeing each other since the end of February.”
“You don’t have to explain.” Addison steps forward. “My marriage was hurting well before New Year’s Eve.”
“Still,” I sigh. “I feel awful. I just … I just want to go home.”
After I say goodbye, I make it outside into the cool night air. You would think the month of May would be warmer, but it’s still spring in Michigan. Shivering, I quickly find my car, put my guitar in the trunk, and then slam the door shut. It’s always good to take out your aggressions on inanimate objects. They can’t hit back.
During the drive home I try to bury my thoughts, but my emotions won’t have it. Tears escape the corners of my eyes and they make the white traffic lines blurry. How is it I have the most shittastic luck when it comes to men? Is there a sign on my forehead I can’t see? It must say “Assholes Apply Here. Employment guaranteed.” Thankfully P!nk comes on the radio and distracts me. I turn up the volume and shout along to “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”. It’s cathartic.
When I reach my exit, I pull off the expressway and concentrate on driving through the sleepy little town I’ve lived in my entire life. When I park in front of my apartment building, I turn off the ignition and wipe beneath my eyes. No one should be around to see my mascara-streaked face, but I still don’t want to look like Alice Cooper. Even if one of my neighbors did question me, I doubt they would actually care. They’d just think I’m the girl from D3 who always stays out too late. Judging by some of the looks I get, my neighbors think I party. My reality is much more tame. I tend bar for a living and work late hours. Sue me, nosey people.
Once I make my way inside, I kick off my heels, toss my purse on the table, and head straight for the bathroom. Turning the water on full blast, I take off the blue party dress I bought especially for the wedding tonight. I hang it on the back of the door and run my fingers over the fabric. Will I ever wear it again? If I do, it will only remind me of Douchebag Derek and the fact that I slept with a married man.
After a moment, I decide yes. Even though my heart stings, I, Jen Elliott, will wear this dress again. Maybe not anytime soon.
But I will.
Stepping into the shower, the hot water pulls the curls from my hair and a few angry tears from my eyes. It turns my skin pink, and I stand under it long enough to wrinkle my fingers and toes. When the water runs cold, I get out and wrap myself in a towel. What I wouldn’t give to start over.
I’m not talking about the shower. I’m talking about going back in time and correcting a few things. I run my hand over the steam-covered mirror and stare at my foggy reflection. Apparently, I’m destined to be single bartender for the rest of my life. There are worse fates.