Reckless Love Page 36

“If you want this, take it, but only with your left hand.” I turned to face him again. The weight was dang heavy; even with two hands, I was barely able to hold it up. It forced me into a hunched bent-knee position, but I held strong.

His jaw clenched and his eyes darkened. He was getting upset. Good. Maybe if he was angry, he would be able to push himself harder. “Just let me—”

“Uh-uh.” I took a seriously labored step back. “The left hand. Your ligaments have healed. The only reason you can’t fight yet is because your strength isn’t where the doctor wanted it to be. So, please take this thing before I drop it on my foot.”

He lunged in and grabbed it easily with his right hand. “Don’t be stupid, MacKenzie,” he barked.

“Stop being a baby,” I barked back. “We don’t have time for your pussyfooting around anymore, Ian.”

I was shouting. Crap. I wanted him to work harder, but not if I had to turn into Bitchzilla to make it happen. I turned away and took a deep breath, trying to calm myself. Damn it, couldn’t he see I just wanted him to win? Why did I always have to end up being such a dysfunctional mess?

His rough hand closed on my shoulder, and he gently kneaded it. “MacKenzie, I’m sorry.”

For a moment I closed my eyes and allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to turn and face him, to have him sweep me into his arms and hold me to him. How good it would feel to press against his firm body and look longingly into his eyes.

I allowed myself only a moment of weakness to imagine this, then took another step away from him, shrugging off his hand before turning back to face him.

His hand fell to his side. “I didn’t mean you were stupid. I know I need to work harder. Look.” He pointed to his left hand, where he held the weight. “I want to do this. I need your help to get my strength back so that I can win this fight.”

“Good,” I said. “Let’s see you do four sets of twelve.” I waited for him to protest the extra set of reps I added on, but he didn’t. Instead, he started in on his first rep.

Ian went through the first set without too much effort. With one arm, he shrugged up the weight I’d almost dropped as if it were as light as a can of soup. It was the third and fourth sets that almost killed him. He grunted through the final shrugs, something I should have been pushing him to do several weeks ago.

As he pushed through the final one, I caught sight of Chris just behind him coming out of the office with a woman I’d never seen before. She was about my age, maybe a little younger. Her hair was bleached blond, and she had serious makeup issues. Like her face was all deep tan, and her neck was seriously pink and pale.

Earth to Blondie, you can put makeup on your neck. Or just less makeup on your face. I wasn’t the beauty police, but seeing someone trying and failing so hard kind of made me smirk.

The smirk fell when I saw what she was doing with her hand. She was resting it on Chris’s abdomen, and Chris wasn’t stopping her. In fact, he seemed as if he was used to having it there. She giggled and smiled at something he said, and he looked at her with something like satisfaction.

My mind raced, wondering if I’d seen them go into the office. Ian and I had been just outside for a good half hour, and I hadn’t seen them go in. How long had they been in there?

Chris looked up and saw me staring. His posture immediately stiffened and he stepped out of Blondie’s reach, putting on a smile for me. He said a few words to Blondie. She glared at me for a beat before she ran off, and Chris headed toward us.

“Hey, guys. How’s the training going?” Chris said.

Ian turned to meet him. “Good. Your girlfriend is kicking my ass into shape.”

Chris nodded and stepped forward, taking my hand. “Good. I knew there was something special about her when Cade introduced us.”

I let him take my hand and forced a smile. And when he leaned in for a kiss, I kissed him back.

It was obvious something was off with the way he acted around Blondie, but when I searched my feelings, I found I didn’t care. In fact, it was almost a relief. Because if Chris was cheating on me, it meant I had nothing to worry about.

The whole time I’d told myself I would be able to trick Ian into thinking I was happy with Chris, I was seriously conflicted about one thing—I’d thought Chris was a good guy, and I wasn’t sure if I could continue to pretend with him. It felt like betrayal.

But now I knew. He was a douche-bag, just as horrible as I was. Maybe we deserved each other.

When he bent down to kiss me, I allowed it despite feeling not at all into it. Maybe this was what I deserved.

Thirty

MacKenzie

It was Thursday, our usual girls’ night. I’d begged off, telling Alexa I wasn’t in the mood, and was just curling up on my sofa with a blanket and a pint of ice cream when my buzzer rang. I considered ignoring it, but it could be one of my neighbors. A woman down on the second floor was always locking herself out.

I peeked out the window at the stoop to find Ty and Alexa staring up at me. Shoot. Couldn’t a girl have a night alone without her friends freaking out?

I buzzed them up and unlocked my door, plopping back down on the couch to wait for them.

Ty’s giggling preceded them as they came to my door and then knocked.

“It’s open.”

“Hey, sweetie,” Alexa said as she came in, brandishing two unopened bottles of my favorite cheap chardonnay, one in each hand. “Where’s your corkscrew?”

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