Authors: Xavier Neal
Senses Series, Book 3
Copyright© 2014 by Xavier Neal
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All Rights are Reserved.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
To the Universe…you really do know exactly what you’re doing.
“I don’t like this one either.” My eyes roam across the ballroom floor that clearly hasn’t been swept since the last event.
I’m not being a bitch…I can still see cake crumbs on the floor! That’s nasty.
“Maxx, this is the sixth venue we’ve been to,” Tony sighs from the pillar behind me. Sharply, I turn my head over my shoulder. He offers me his sweet smile as reassurance that he’s not mad, but tired of seeing me frustrated.
Why didn’t I just go out with him in the first place? He obviously cares. He obviously gets how to treat a woman. He’s respectful. He’s loving. What’s his biggest flaw? Oh. Right. He’s not Logan. Wait. Shouldn’t that be his best attribute?
“Can I suggest somewhere?”
With a wave of my hand I say, “Go ahead.”
“The hotel Chateau Willard, downtown.” He pulls his cell phone from his pocket, unlocks the screen, and shows me his idea.
Taking a couple steps towards him, I stare at the photos of what appears to be my ideal place to host this event. “And why are you just
“Because you are just
willing to have a two person conversation,” he emphasizes and puts his phone back into his pocket. “Max-a-roo, what’s wrong?”
Shut up. He doesn’t need to know.
“Maxx,” he calls to me again, his hands plopping on my shoulders as he stares into my eyes. “I know something is wrong. Do you wanna talk about it?”
With you either. Especially not with you. Now that you’re here, I’d like to, not so gently, remind you that me being screwed and left like some Vegas stripper was partially your fault. So no, you didn’t force me to lie down on the bed and give myself over…but you voted for that option. Don’t try to deny it.
“Does it have to do with Unbreakable?”
My lips seal as my eyes cut away.
Do with him? How about this is all about him! Like everything else in my life that goes wrong, he’s at the heart of it! I can’t believe I fell for all that bullshit he said. Lies. Everything…was a lie. You saw it coming didn’t you? You saw it coming, and you didn’t stop me from falling for it?! Ugh.
“But you two—”
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” I refuse him again, and my cell phone rings saving me. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I see that it’s my Aunt Caroline and I smile. “Hello.”
“Hello, Maxx. Are you still coming?”
“Soon, Aunt Caroline. Just had to get some work done.”
“Of course.” Her voice sounds a little shaky. Almost nervous. “Take your time, but please try to make it by dinner?”
“Definitely.” I glance at Tony who is texting.
I wonder to whom. Damn. You’re right. It’s none of my business.
“I have one more place to stop and then I’ll be over, alright?”
“Yes, mi querido.” The term causes me to shove a hand on my hip.
Aunt Caroline only calls me my dear when something is wrong. This isn’t good.
“Aunt Caroline, is everything okay?”
“Fine. Fine, mi querido. We’ll see you at dinner.” And she hangs up.
Great. Now my aunt is lying to me too.
“Everything okay?” Tony’s asks.
Not in the mood to talk to him about it, or about anything involving me for that matter, I change the subject. “Who are you texting?”
With a smile, he answers, “My date for the night.”
“Oh?” I fiddle with my shirt. “Didn’t know you had one.”
I roll my eyes.
Yes. But not because I want to be the one Tony is texting, but because I want Logan to treat me the way Tony treats me. God, I sound like a fucking broken record. I am so over this conversation.
“Wow,” he blows out. “Unbreakable must’ve really fucked up huh?” Before I can respond, he tugs his keys out of his pocket. “Come on. Let’s check out that last spot.” And with that Tony turns his back and heads out of the crappy venue.
Fucked up? Ha. Understatement is all I wanna say. Understatement.
Pulling into Aunt Caroline’s driveway, I ignore another phone call coming from Erin. It’s the seventh one in the last 20 minutes, the 15th since I left the house.
What could she possibly have to say? She came in pretty loud and clear when she confirmed what I was thinking earlier. No need to repeat the message. She’s also sent like 25 texts. Haven’t read a single one. You know who hasn’t sent another text? I’ll give you one guess…
I turn off my cell phone hoping she will get the point. Afterwards, I put it in my purse, slide the keys out of the ignition, and head towards the front door. Looking around at the neighborhood I grew up in, I reluctantly smile. The neighbor to the left whose pale blue, one story house has the fence that’s always leaned slightly, Mrs. Hathaway? The elementary school teacher with no kids and a husband who died six years ago. My eyes move to the one on the right and see the other single story house, which is white brick, with a stone path leading to the front door. It’s the home of Mr. Rogers, the lonely man who is retired and runs an old bookstore.
He’s surprisingly friendly and always gives me discounts on books. He used to supply me with them while I lived with my aunt and uncle. Let’s just say if it hadn’t been for him, my Aunt Caroline would’ve spent more than my small college fund trying to keep me fed with literature. Hell, I was just in his place earlier this week. You should remember. That was the day Logan went on the little marking his territory kick like a mangy mutt, only it wasn’t pee that he dripped on my leg.
With a gentle knock on the painted white door of my aunt and uncle’s red brick, two story house, I open the door calling out, “Hello…”
My uncle steps out from his office, which is branched off from the main entryway, papers in hand, oversized glasses sliding down his aging face. “Maxx.”
“Hey, Uncle Mike.” I stroll over to give him a hug.
Uncle Mike is my dad’s brother. They were actually twins. Growing up I remember how crazy it was that they had so much in common and behaved so alike, down to both having the same boring job. Accountants. And lookswise, picture two replicas of LL Cool J, one only slightly taller than the other.
“How are you doing?” He folds his arms after taking me in.
“I’ve been better.” The comment slips away before I have a chance to catch it. Quickly I follow it up and add, “Works been all over the place.”
His thick, dark brown eyebrows rise. “You don’t know yet, do you?”
Uncle Mike is about to speak when Aunt Caroline strolls around the corner, her small 5’4 frame abruptly coming to a halt. Today, her dark brown hair is pulled up off of her slender shoulders into a high ponytail.
She only puts her hair up if she’s stressed or working out.
“Hola, Maxx.” The hint of accent is stronger than usual.
Again. Another tell-tale sign that she is upset about something. She’s half Mexican and half black, and when she finds herself troubled, her Hispanic side takes a stronger hold.
“Hola, Aunt Caroline.”
“You haven’t told her?” Uncle Mike snaps.
“Told me what?”
“I wanted to do it in person,” she whispers loudly.
“You should’ve warned her—”
“She deserves to know!” Uncle Mike raises his voice, something he seldom does, just like my father rarely did.
“Know what?” I interrupt them again.
Before either has a chance to respond another face appears in the conversation, peaking around the corner from the kitchen. My jaw drops to the ground along with my purse.
Oh, God no…
“Maxx,” her voice squeaks and my face immediately scrunches. “My beautiful daughter.”
Are you fucking kidding me?
I watch as the basketball sinks into the hole flawlessly and bounces away towards the fence.
I fucking hate basketball.
Using the edge of my white t-shirt, I wipe away the sweat that’s dripping down the side of my face and forehead. It’s falling non-stop all over my body, sticking to me in places it has no business being. Other than actual training and sex, there’s no reason there should be this much sweat on my nuts.
“There you are.” Dean comes out of the gym’s side door and onto the court. After glancing around he asks, “You alone?”
“Do you see anyone else?”
Side stepping my remark he slides his hands into his shorts. “I didn’t know you liked basketball.”
Confused, he raises his eyebrows. “So you were…”
“Right. Why? I mean, if you hate it.”
“Because Will told me if I punched another hole in the wall, he’d force me to spackle it myself.” I stroll towards the ball that bounced off the building and rolled somewhat back towards me.
put that hole in the wall in the locker room?” His eyes pop out of his head.
“And the one by the front door.”
What do you want me to say? I’ve got a little pent up rage. And after cleaning up that glass shit at the house I knew I didn’t wanna have to clean up anything else there. Do you have any clue how fucking hard it is to get glass up from tile?
“Shit,” Dean grumbles. “That was you too?” Yanking up the ball I give the kid a look that indicates his repetition is not doing it for me. “What happened?”
happen? Let’s recap shall we? I woke up this morning with the girl of my dreams in my arms, snoring softly, which was cute, went to the gym to help the youth, bought a girl some flowers for the first time, and she fucking left me.
. Worst day of my fucking life. No. I don’t wanna fucking talk about it anymore.
“Hungry?” The change of subject catches the kid off guard.
“Uh…I could eat.”
“Get your shit, and let’s go.”
Dean nods and turns to go back the way he came with me following right behind. With the ball tucked under my arm, I give the outside of the gym a good hard look, my fist itching to shove itself right into the wall.
This is the kind of rage that used to break my ribs. The kind of rage that would have my mother limping for days. Nothing good comes from being this goddamn angry. As much as I fucking hate that Maxx left, and trust me I really fucking do, I can’t say that if I saw her again right now that I would have enough control to stop myself from hurting her. I’m not sure how I’d respond with this much resentment. And I never wanna hurt Maxx. Ever. You know that.
After a quick car drive, Dean and I are at one of my favorite burger places, sitting at a table outside and waiting on our food to be delivered. I’m leaning back in the chair looking at my minion who’s talking about some guy that tried to jump him the other day for talking to the guy’s girlfriend, when I notice the mark under his jawline.
“Was his girlfriend the one who gave you that hickey on your neck?” My head tilts towards the red mark.
The look on his face becomes stone cold as he rubs the spot. “Not a hickey. It’s a burn.”
Instantly my jaw clenches, “The old man?”
My mouth opens to respond when a voice cuts me off. “Is that you, muscle head?”
An old face joins my vision and I twist my black baseball cap around on my head. “Well look at that, meat head.”
The guy whose blond hair was once long and shaggy, but is now cut short thanks to his military background, approaches me and extends his knuckles for a fist bump. With a cocky smirk he says, “I thought that was you, Kellar. No shit! What are you doing in these parts?”
“Took the Kid for a burger.” I tilt my head at Dean. “Dean meet Glove. Glove this is Dean.”
Glove extends a hand for Dean to shake which he does. Immediately after he asks, “You a fighter too?”
“With a face like this? Hell no,” Glove chuckles. “I’m a Marine.”
Dean’s eyes widen and I add, “Too pretty for that too, but that didn’t stop him.”
Glove laughs again and looks at me. “I hear you’re still fighting. Undefeated.”
“Maybe I’ll catch the next the one.”
“Maybe.” I shrug.
“Alright, Kellar, gotta get back to the table. There’s this sexy little waitress waiting for me to tattoo my name on that ass.” He fist bumps me once more and disappears towards the other half of the patio where I notice two other guys waiting for him.
“How do you know him?” Dean’s question is followed by the arrival of our food.
After a polite thank you to the waitress, who, by the way she keeps stealing glances at him, is obviously the one with her eyes on Glove, I answer, “High school. Used to crash our parties.”
“You used to throw parties?”
“Erin would decide to throw one, Maxx would come up with a way to make it kick ass, and Luke and I would make sure all the right people were there. Hot chicks for me and hot dudes for them.” My reminiscing makes Dean laugh with a mouthful of food while I manage a smirk.
Hell, I remember keeping an eye on Maxx, even then. It didn’t matter if there was a girl in my lap grasping for my attention. Didn’t like the idea of any other guy touching her that way. Come to think of it, one time a baseball player moved his hands down to her ass while they were dancing and I gave him a black eye. Swollen shut for an entire day. What? Don’t look at me like that. His fucking hands had no business there if they were just fucking dancing. What do you mean do I dance that way? I think you’re missing the point.
Licking the salt off his fingers, Dean asks, “Wanna talk about it?”
A grunt leaves me. “What about her?”
“You left this morning all smiles and shit and next time I see you well…you put a hole through a wall.” He takes another bite of his burger. “So what happened?”
“How’d you get the burn?”
Dean’s face falls again as he slows his chewing down.
“You wanna talk about my shit love life, Kid? Then we talk about your shit home life. Deal?”
Sounds fair to you, doesn’t it?
He wipes his hand on a napkin. “Old Man was pissed when he found out I had been working out with you. Got me with his cigarette.”
Is it bad that I wanna break his father’s nose?
Dean clears his throat and picks his burger back up. “Your turn.”
I drop mine. “Maxx left.”
“What do you mean she left?”
“Exactly what I just said.”
Suddenly he seems overly concerned. “Why would she do that? Why would she just leave? Did she leave a note? Did you call her? Did you text her? Did you—”
“Kid,” I cut him off, my appetite suddenly lost. “I answered your question.”
“Unbreakable!” a high pitched voice chimes in.
Fuck. Me. Why is it on the one day I wanna be left alone, everyone fucking finds me?
Before I have a chance to respond, she’s in my lap with her long set of tan legs wrapped around my waist and her arms swung around my neck. Her long blonde hair is tickling the tops of her tits in the white tank top she’s wearing.
Perky, a decent set. B-cups. Nothing to kick out of bed but nowhere near as amazing as Maxx’s. I can practically still feel them on my fingertips. Damn it. I need her off of my fucking brain.
“Legs,” I greet her as her smooth legs inch up the side of my t-shirt.
“Sorry I missed your fight.” Her bottom lip pops out. “And it was the cowboy theme too! You know how good my legs look in cowgirl boots.”
“As good as your ass does in a pair of tight jean cut-offs.” I keep my hands dangling at my sides.
Why is it I don’t have any desire to touch her? I mean none. My dick hasn’t even twitched. Is it bad I want her off my fucking lap?
“And it looks damn good, baby.” She giggles and tosses her head back, a trick that she uses to entice me into wanting her in bed.
Once upon a fucking time it would’ve worked. But thanks to Maxx, nothing seems to be fucking working. NO! I’m not gonna try to talk to her. She made her choice. Loud and fucking clear.
“Dean.” I lean around her. “This is Liz. Liz meet the Kid.”
She unwraps herself and spins around, remaining in my lap. “Hey!”
“Hi…” His voice sounds like he’s shrinking back into his shell.
I used to do that too when someone I didn’t think I could trust came around. My voice would change. My body would shift. My eyes would gloss over. And if you take a good look at the Kid now, you’ll see he’s clutching his cup tightly, and that he’s sunk lower in that chair.
“Never seen you around.” She leans back against me, the smell of fruit coming from her hair.
I hate it. I don’t fucking like tropical fruit. Why would I want kiwi or bananas or whatever the fuck is radiating off her hair in my face? She smells nothing like Maxx. Fuck, why can’t I just let her go? Oh right…because she’s the only girl I’ve ever loved. Good point.
“He’s new,” I sigh, and she glances over her shoulder at me.
“So…” she whispers, “busy tonight?”
Liz lifts her blue eyes to the sky as if thinking about something.
Highly doubt it. I can name the intelligent things I’ve heard her say on one hand and still have three fingers left over.
The correct answer should be I’m always busy from now on…but that wouldn’t help me get over Maxx now would it? Best way to get over one girl is to have another one on top.
“Maybe. I’ll text you.” I bounce her body off my lap and she pops up, her name being called from the doorway inside.
“Promise…” She backs away slowly, sliding her hands into the back pockets of her jean skirt.
“Unbreakable doesn’t do promises, baby.” I wink before she giggles and strolls away to meet her friends.
“Is her IQ any higher than my age?” Dean asks, pondering the last of his burger.
For the first time this afternoon, I let out a genuine laugh and he joins in.
It’s alright for you to join us. Not sure how many more laughs I’m actually gonna get now.