How about a scene from CHASED? Liv, the woman who finally gave her heart to the former skirt chaser, walks in on something that breaks her heart…
Chase Brothers: CHASED by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2007, Lauren Dane
All rights reserved, Samhain Publishing
Things had gotten back to normal pretty much and Liv relaxed. Maggie had been relieved that everything was all right and Liv realized that things were going the best they had her entire life. Her plan had actually come to fruition and loving Marc Chase had been everything she’d imagined true love to be and more.
A spring in her step, she walked toward the studio a bit early on a Wednesday. The heat had finally edged away and fall was in the air. She’d picked up a few brochures for a bed and breakfast down on the coast. She thought a nice weekend away would be just the thing for them.
Pushing open the front door of the studio, Liv halted. The smile on her face froze and then slid off as a pain so sharp she wasn’t sure she’d survive it sliced through her gut.
Marc was there on the floor, on top of another woman, Nancy Ellis. Nancy’s thighs were spread and wrapped around him.
Nancy, laughing looked up and caught sight of Liv as Marc pushed away and scrambled up. When he turned and saw her he went as pale as a ghost.
“Not what I think?” She felt totally empty, as if there was nothing inside her at all, which she supposed was better than the searing pain she’d felt just before.
“You made me think I was imaging things.” She took a step back and he took one forward. “Don’t. Don’t you fucking come near me. Not ever again. Don’t call me. Don’t come see me.” She pressed a fist to her gut to keep from screaming as the pain came back, filling her from her toes up to her ears. She would not cry. She would not give him the satisfaction.
Turning, she left and he was on her heels.
“Liv, damn it, wait!” He grabbed her arm and she spun, kneeing him square in the balls, smiling with savage satisfaction as he crumpled to his knees.
“Don’t you touch me. You fucking bastard.” Turning again she ran as fast as she could.
Knowing he’d probably go to her place, she grabbed her car and got the hell out of there.
Marc had been busy with one of his clients when he’d turned to see Nancy walk in. Great.
“Hey, Nancy. What brings you here?”
She put her hand on her hip and gave him her sexiest smile. “I came for a workout.”
His other client had been cooling down and by the time she’d gone, it was just Marc and Nancy.
“Well, I told you that I’m with Liv Davis and I meant that. If you’d like to work out without any sex involved, I’d be happy to help. I’m not taking one-on-one clients just now but I have a wait list. But you can use the facilities here without a personal trainer.”
She’d appeared to take the news well and had gone back to change and he’d filled out enrollment papers and gotten her signed up. He should have known it was too good to be true when she’d said she was having trouble with one of the machines. He’d bent over her to help and she’d pulled him down, laughing, wrapping her thighs around his waist.
Pissed off beyond measure, he pushed himself away from Nancy and to standing when he’d heard a gasp. A sound that constricted around his heart. He’d turned, knowing she was there but that knowledge hadn’t been enough to prepare him for the look on her face.
Her voice, flat, empty didn’t fit with the pain glittering in her eyes. He had plenty of time to relive the entire event as he lay there on the sidewalk after his gloriously pissed off woman had kneed him in the balls and took off running.
He limped back into the studio where Nancy stood, fully dressed and looking upset.
“Oh goodness, Marc. I didn’t… I’m so sorry. Is she all right?”
“I don’t know,” he said, voice strained as his balls throbbed. “What the hell were you thinking?”
“I was just flirting. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I may have wanted you back and wanted to test to see what your commitment to Liv really was, but I’d never, not ever in a million years want to hurt her like that. Or you. I’m so sorry.” Nancy wrung her hands anxiously. “Do you want me to talk to her? Tell her what happened?”
“Not for now. Maybe later. Fuck.” He pushed a hand through his hair. “I have to go find her.” He put up the closed sign and Nancy left, promising to be available to talk to Liv if he needed her to.
Maggie opened her front door and her warm greeting died in her throat. She reached out and pulled Liv inside.
“My goodness, honey, what is it? Is everyone okay? Who got hurt?”
“Marc,” she gasped.
“Marc got hurt? What happened? Where is he?” Kyle came into the room.
“Marc cheated on me.” Liv crumpled to her knees as she wept as if her heart would break.
“He what? No. No, he wouldn’t!” Maggie sank to scoop Liv into her arms and rock her slowly. “Honey, you must have misunderstood.”
“Two weeks ago he was h-hiding something and tonight I found him on the floor with Nancy Ellis. He was on top of her, her legs wrapped around him. She was l-laughing.”
“This can’t be right. Liv, honey, my brother adores you. He would not do this to you. I know it.” Kyle looked helplessly at Liv as he brushed a hand over her hair. “Did he explain?”
“Explain what? Do you think I’m a moron? Or some desperate woman who’ll buy a bunch of lies to hold onto a bigger lie?”
“Let’s get you up and on the couch, all right? Kyle’s gonna go and make us some tea and we’re going to talk after you finish your cry.” Maggie raised a brow at Kyle who left the room quickly.
“I love him so much. My God this hurts more than anything I’ve ever felt before. This is not right. Why would he do this? If he wasn’t ready he shouldn’t have pushed me. I was…I had a plan! Damn it, I had a plan and he promised he loved me and I fell in love with him and he sucks. Oh he sucks and I hate him and I hope I did permanent damage when I kneed him in the sac. That fucker.”
Maggie sighed heavily, not knowing what to do but hoping like hell Kyle picked up her hint and was tracking down his brother to find out what was happening.
“I tell you something, Olivia Jean, if Marc has cheated on you, I will personally skin him alive. I swear it. I’ve got your back. But let’s not be hasty here. Let him explain.”
“Explain what? Maggie, he was on top of another woman with her legs wrapped around his waist! What is there to explain about that that isn’t totally obvious?”
“Okay so it sounds pretty bad.” And boy how it did. What the hell did Marc do? “But…”
Liv stood. “No buts, Maggie. I never should have allowed myself to get close to him. I should have listened to my head and not my freaking vagina. I have been such a fool. This probably isn’t even the first time.”
Kyle came into the room and put a tray down on the table with a pot of tea and some mugs. “I’m going to go check on the baby. Should I make up the guest room for you, sweetie?”
“No. No. I need to go. Be alone. I have to think.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. You should be with people who love you right now. Stay here, please. You know Nicholas adores his auntie. Stay here tonight and we’ll have pancakes tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, I’m having biscuits and gravy and six slices of bacon tomorrow morning. Maybe a cheeseburger for lunch. But I don’t want to be around Nicky in this mood, it’s not good for him to see me this way. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have come.”
“Of course you should. Liv, you’re my best friend. You’ve been there for me when I’ve needed you for thirty years. Please, let me be there now.” Maggie took her hands, aching at the pain on Liv’s face.
Liv kissed Maggie’s cheek. “I love you for being my friend, I truly do. But I know Kyle called Marc when he was in the kitchen and I don’t want to see his face. I can’t.” She moved to the door. “I’ll call you when I’m ready.”
She turned and left and Maggie stared at the door with tears in her eyes.
“He’s on his way but he was at her house when I called so he won’t make it. Let me call him back.”
Maggie turned to her husband. “And tell him what? She didn’t tell me where she was going because she didn’t trust me not to tell Marc. Kyle, I’ve betrayed her today just like your dumbass brother did.”
Kyle took her in his arms. “You didn’t betray her. You wanted to help her and make this thing right. He says it was all a stupid misunderstanding. That she walked in at the wrong moment.”
“Clearly! I’m sure he was hoping to finish up by the time his girlfriend walked in on him between another woman’s legs.”
“That isn’t what it was. Or it is but not what it looked like. Maggie, damn it, I love Liv. I would not cheat on her.” Marc walked into the room. “Where is she?”
“Gone. I don’t know where. But you’d better have a damned good explanation.”
Marc sighed and sat down heavily on the couch, telling them everything.
“Do you know where she is?” Polly asked, pacing.
“She left a voicemail for Cassie saying she didn’t want her to be put in the middle between her friends and her family but she was okay and would be gone for a while,” Shane said. “Cassie’s all torn up over it. She’s upset that Liv is alone right now and didn’t think she could turn to her or Maggie.”
“I could just knock the spit out of that Nancy,” Maggie said, patting Nicholas’s back.
“If I could just get her to talk to me, I know I could get her to see some sense,” Marc said heavily. “I’ve left her messages and notes at her house. She’s not gone back there since Wednesday night. They told Maggie, Liv took a week’s vacation from work. No one is talking to me. I wouldn’t cheat on her, I swear it. I know it looks bad but I’m not that man. Not now and I wasn’t even a cheater before I fell for my girl. God, I hate thinking about her out there believing I’d betray her like that. I just want to hold her and love her.”
Polly squeezed his shoulder and kissed his cheek. “Honey, this will be all right. We’ve got to find her and let her know she’s loved by all of us.”
In Atlanta, Liv sat, eyes closed, relaxation a lá white wine and a facial.
“Just relax here for a while longer. The deep cleansing mask will be done in about ten minutes and your hands will be ready to come out of the paraffin,” the disembodied voice of the beautician told her.
“Mmmm. Thanks,” Liv mumbled, settling deeper into the chair.
“Oh girl, you’re a sneaky one.”
Liv sighed, knowing it was too good to be true that she’d remained unmolested for the last week.
“What are you doing here? Where’s Nicholas?”
“What the hell is on your face? Nicholas is right here in my arms if you’d opened your eyes to see.”
“What are you doing here?”
“You already asked that and your eyes are closed still. Don’t you want to see your godson? He’s missed you, you know. Gone for a week without a damned word. I mean really. I ought to sic Polly on you.”
Liv cracked an eye and turned her head. “Hi, lumpkin, how are you, sweetie?” Nicholas cooed at her and reached toward her voice. “In a few minutes, bubba. Right now Auntie Liv’s hands are wrapped in wax. I know, silly, aren’t I?”
“Not as silly as having that green crap on your face.”
“Deep cleansing mask with milk and chamomile. Are we here to trade beauty tips?”
“Lookit you with that smart mouth.”
“Look, Maggie, what do you want?”
Just then the beautician came back to clean off her mask, put on some moisturizer, remove the wax from her hands and massage them.
“I’ll skip the manicure today, Sarah. My godson here is sensitive to smells.”
Liv paid her bill and left a tip, not looking at Maggie as she went toward the doors.
“You are so not going to just walk out on me, Olivia Davis. Thanks to Dee and Penny, I tracked you down. We’ve all been worried as hell about you. How dare you not keep in contact?”
Liv spun and glared at her oldest friend. “I would say something very unladylike right now but Nicholas is watching so I’ll just tell you to mind your own beeswax. I’ve been looking at apartments here. I’ve gone on two job interviews. I’m moving on thankyouverymuch. I haven’t kept contact because you have other allegiances now as does Cassie. I thought I could trust Dee and Penny but I guess I was wrong. Give me that baby.”
Maggie handed Nicholas over who giggled and reached up to touch her face. “Hey, lumpkin.” She kissed his tiny face, missing the way he smelled.
“What the heck does that mean? Other allegiances?”
“You know what it means. Where’s Marc? Hiding somewhere ready to jump out? With his new girlfriend at his place?”
Maggie sighed. “Okay, this is what we’re going to do. You’re not going to take this attitude with me. Other allegiances my ahh—booty.” Maggie looked at Nicholas. “Then you and I are going to your hotel and we’re going to put the baby down for a nap. You’re going to tell me about this fool plan to move away from Petal and I’m going to knock you out if you go through with it. And then we’re going to order room service and talk about Marc over a few beers.”
“Do I have any choice?”
“My next step is to call Polly Chase. She’s more agitated than I am over this so she’ll drive out here like a shot. You decide.” Maggie folded her arms over her chest.
“Straight to first strike nuclear war.” Liv shook her head. “You’ve gotten vicious in your old age.”
“Exactly. What’ll it be?”
Sighing, Liv handed Nicholas back to his mother. “Fine. I’m sure you know what room I’m in.”
Stalking off, Liv headed for her car and the hotel. When she arrived, she waited for Maggie in the lobby.
Maggie looked surprised when she saw Liv waiting. “What’s the problem?”
“I figured you’d have a bunch of baby gear and would need help carrying it.”
“Tough guy. Total marshmallow in the center.” Maggie smiled and handed Nicholas to her along with his baby bag. “Take him on up with you, I’m going back to the car to get his porta-crib.”
“Come on you, you’re the best man I’ve taken to a hotel room ever.” Liv kissed his forehead and took him upstairs.
She’d changed a diaper and was singing him some Aretha Franklin when Maggie knocked on the door and moved to set up his crib.
“I’m going to nurse him down. Order me something good to eat and settle in. We have a lot to talk about and I’m staying over.”
“Damned right. Get to it, I’m hungry.”
Twenty minutes later, Nicholas was sleeping in the bedroom and the food arrived. Liv cracked open a beer and sat back, looking at Maggie. “So? Go on, tell me.”
“You tell me. What kind of stupid shit is this? Moving to Atlanta? Why? Over a stupid misunderstanding with your boyfriend? Even if he had cheated on you, which he didn’t, why would a woman like Liv Davis let anyone chase her out of her own damned town?”
“Because that woman can’t keep a damned man, Maggie. I don’t want to be her anymore. I don’t want to be there anymore. I’m making a clean break and starting over here. A new city and a new outlook. I’ll find the right man here and I won’t have to see Marc Chase’s face ever again.”
“He loves you, damn it. What you saw was Nancy acting a fool. I talked with the stupid cow a few days ago. She faked a problem with her machine and when he leaned in to help her she grabbed him with her legs. He’d just pushed away from her when you walked in. He was ready to rip a hank off her hide. He’s sorry you’re hurt. He knows it looked bad but it only looked bad. Honey, he loves you. He’s been miserable since you’ve been gone.”
“Oh boo hoo. What about me, huh? I couldn’t even go to my best friend without her calling Marc. I couldn’t talk to my other best friend because she’s married to that fink’s other brother. My best guy friend is his other damned brother. And I’m in a hotel an hour and a half away and my other two friends finked me out as well. Why does Marc get all the consideration here?”
“I’m sorry! Liv, honey, I am truly sorry I hurt you. I just wanted to help. I know he loves you. I know you love him. I didn’t mean to drive you away.” Maggie took her hand and squeezed it. “Of all the people in my life, you’ve been there for me the longest. When no one else loved me, you did. When no one else cared about how I was feeling or how I did on an exam, you did. When no one else remembered my birthday, you did. It breaks my heart that you feel you can’t count on me. Please forgive me. Honestly, I can’t bear it that you feel you can’t trust me.”
Liv sighed. “I understand why you did it. I just needed to be alone. I needed to think.”
“Well you haven’t been thinking at all if you think moving away is a logical way to deal with this. Do you think Marc is just going to let you walk away? Liv, haven’t you heard anything I’ve said about that night?”
“I have. I heard it from him too via voicemails.”
“And I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it and wondering if I believed him but really I suppose the problem is that I have to think about it to begin with.”
“What does that mean?”
“I mean if I really trusted him and if he was truly trustworthy, would I have had to think on it for a week? Would I doubt him at all?”
“Liv, you know, I can’t do this for you. I can tell you my opinion, which is that Marc is telling the truth. That he loves you. That he’s worth trusting. I can also tell you that you love him. But there’s something else inside you that you never quite share with me. Doesn’t mean I can’t see it though. Fear that you’re not good enough.”
Liv shrugged, feeling the shame of it roil in her gut.
“You act so tough. So in charge and confident but there’s something always in the back of your mind, isn’t there? Telling you that you don’t deserve forever. So you’re going to jump on something like this to keep from taking a big step with a man who is your match. And he is, Liv. These other men, Brody, Matt, you’ve enjoyed them and had long term things with them but they weren’t your equal. Not the way Marc is. You can’t manage him or keep him walled out and that scares you.”
Liv chewed her bottom lip, blinking fast to hold back tears. “I want forever. I do.”
“I know you do. And you deserve it too. But in order to have it, you have to risk your heart and really trust yourself as much as you need to trust Marc. Trust that you deserve to be loved. I had to risk that, risk my heart and take the leap when Kyle came along. I was scared shitless but hell, look at us now. A mortgage, a kid, a mother-in-law who fills my house with so much baby gear I can barely walk. I figure if you marry Marc, she’ll spend some of her energy on you and I’ll get a break.”
“I don’t know if I can. If I take him back and he cheats, I don’t know if I can survive it. When I saw him there with Nancy like that…I’ve never in my life felt that kind of pain. Not even when I lost my mother did it feel so awful, so hopeless. I don’t want to experience that again.” Liv toyed with the food on her plate but didn’t eat anything.
“Up until the homecoming picnic, I’ve never seen you happier. It felt good didn’t it? Right?”
Liv thought about it. Had been thinking about it for the last week. “Yes. Yes it did. I felt whole for the first time in my life. But that changed at the picnic because then I began to panic that there was something wrong and he’d dump me any day. I hate feeling like that. It was that way with Matt, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I want to feel safe. Secure in my relationship. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.”
Maggie nodded. “It isn’t too much to ask. Why don’t you talk to Marc about all this? See what he says?”
“Because he lied to me, Maggie.”
“I told you, he didn’t cheat on you.”
Liv held up a hand to cut her off. “I know that. I’m pretty sure of it anyway. It was a public place. Plus if he had and I’d busted him, he’d have stopped trying to lie about it after a few days and moved on to another woman.”
“Then what are you talking about?”
“The homecoming picnic. There was something wrong and not something about his work. I don’t know what exactly it was, but I know he lied about it and I let it go. I let it go because I was afraid and I know now I can’t live that way.”
“Give him a chance to explain, Liv. He’s fallen apart this week without you. You have nothing left to lose. You’re already in love with him. Don’t run away from the best thing that’s ever happened to you. I want you to be happy. You are happy with Marc. Don’t let fear take this chance at a future with the man you love away from you.”
Nicholas woke up then with a cry and Maggie went to get him.
“Does Marc know you’re here?” Liv asked as settled back in to feed the baby.
“He does. He was so worried I wanted to let him know you were safe and that I was coming to see you. He agreed not to come and bother you until I’d spoken to you. Well, after Polly interceded and talked him out of rushing out here to grab you by the hair and drag you home.”
Liv laughed. “Yeah, he does have that caveman thing going on. Surprising really. I’d never have suspected it. He always seemed the laid back skirt chaser. But he’s got an iron spine beneath that exterior.”
“He’s never had to fight for anything he wanted and stood to lose before.” Maggie shrugged. “I need to call Kyle and let him know I got here okay. I just texted him when we got here earlier. He was uneasy to have me come to stay the night with Nicholas away from him.”
“Go home, Mags. You’ll be back in Petal by nine and everyone will feel better. Your husband wants you in his bed tonight and he wants to know that his baby is okay. That’s his right and you want that too. I’m not running off again. In fact I’ll be back in town by Sunday.”
“Really? It’s no big deal to stay here. I’m not far away. He knows I’m all right and I want to be here when you need me. I’m still pissed that you ran off.”
“Honey, Nicholas is a precious little bundle of fabulous. Take that lumpkin home to his daddy. And tough. I did it for myself.”
“You’ll talk to Marc?”
“Probably. I don’t know.”
“But you’ll be back by Sunday for sure, you promise?”
Liv held up her pinky. “Pinky swear.”
She helped load them into the car and waved them on their way back home.
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