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Yield, Page 2

Sawyer Bennett

  I take a sip of the water and let my eyes slide toward the window to watch the hustle and bustle outside. Everyone walking with purpose. All having a place to go, things to do, goals to meet. I watch all of those people walking by and have to wonder... what exactly is my purpose as it relates to Macy? Am I her champion? Or am I really, truly just a fuck buddy to her?

  What do I want to be?

  "I'm sorry," Matt says, breaking in to my reverie.

  I swivel my gaze over to his and tilt my head in curiosity. "Sorry?"

  "I'm sorry you have to go through this," he says simply. "I can tell your feelings for her are deep."

  My hand makes a dismissive motion in the air, because I'm not the one who deserves sympathy. "I'm fine. I am worried about her though."

  "And Mac and I are worried about you," he says.

  "You're worried about me?" I ask skeptically.

  "Well, it's really Mac who's worried," he says with a sarcastic grin, but I know Matt well. I know what he's saying. He truly does have some type of care for me still.

  It's way more than I deserve, so I blow him off. "Don't waste it on me."

  "Don't tell me how to feel," Matt snaps. "We are both concerned about you, so just understand... we know you're taking Macy's back, but we got your back, okay? Someone needs to be in your corner, and while I don't know Macy's secrets, I've come to know a lot about her over the past few years. She needs a lot of maintenance. She's going to take work."

  "You make her sound like a broken-down old car," I mutter.

  "In a way, she is," Matt says with a nod. "She needs care, a soft touch... patience. It's work to reach someone like her. It's not going to be easy with all this shit going on so if you need anything, you just need to ask Mac or me."

  I stare at Matt for a good long while, my eyes searching deep to try to find what in the hell I might be missing. Is this a setup? Is Matt fucking around with me?

  "You're so fucking transparent," Matt mutters as he stands from the table and grabs his untouched bottle of Diet Coke. "I can see the skepticism on your face."

  "You're just freaking me out," I tell him with a grimacing smile as I stand up. "We're not friends, and based on our history together, you shouldn't ever want to expend energy on helping me. Sorry if I'm suspicious of ulterior motives."

  Matt turns away from me. I follow him out of the deli and onto the sunny-bright sidewalk. He comes to an abrupt halt, and I almost run into him. He turns to me and with a voice that is nothing short of complete seriousness, he says, "You're a little off base. I am your friend, Cal. If you'll have me."

  My throat tightens, my chest cramps, and I have to restrain myself from breaking out into a dancing jig of gratitude. Instead, I just give a nod of acceptance and say, "Thanks."

  "Sure," he says as he turns to head back toward Macy's apartment. "Besides, once I tell Mac we're buds again, she is going to be so grateful in the bedroom that I will be one very happy man for some time to come."

  When we get back to Macy's apartment, we find both of the women in the kitchen. Macy's sitting at the kitchen table, her feet pulled up underneath her and her elbows on the table. Mac leans her back against the kitchen counter, her arms crossed over her chest while she talks in a low voice to her best friend.

  As soon as Matt and I walk in, both women turn their heads toward us, Mac with a welcoming smile, Macy with a tired one.

  Not one to waste time, Mac says, "I've been talking to Macy about her obligation to talk to the federal prosecutor. While there is absolutely no law requiring her to do so at this moment, I've advised her that it's best to cooperate."

  "Agreed," Matt and I both say at the same time, and we shoot a grin at each other. We always used to say the same thing at the same time back when we were in college together.

  "You apparently told Macy that I'd go with her to the meeting," Mac says as she eyes me with disapproval. "But I can't be the one to represent her on this. I've told her that. She needs someone with more experience, and I have no criminal experience at all. She needs one of you to go with her."

  I hold my tongue, because I want to jump up and down, throw my hand in the air, and yell, "Pick me, pick me."

  But I don't, because this is Macy's choice.

  She doesn't look put out by this at all, and doesn't make me suffer long with waiting. "Will you go with me, Cal?"

  "Sure I will," I tell her with a reassuring smile, but I don't make a move toward her. I don't want her to get freaked out by how much it means to me that she wants me by her side. It's always baby steps with sweet Macy, and I can shorten my stride for right now.

  But my victory is short-lived as she narrows her eyes at me, and in a clear, strong voice says, "I'm never discussing Brussels with you."

  I swallow hard. "Okay."

  "And I'm not discussing it with them," she adds on.

  "Macy," Mac chides. "You can't just disavow any knowledge of the trip. You were there."

  "Then the only thing I'll say is that it was a family vacation," she says stubbornly, eyes sliding from Mac to me in defiance.

  I walk across the kitchen toward Macy. As I get closer to her, her head tilts back as she watches me tower over her. Palm to cheek, a quick graze of my thumb over her skin, and I say, "I won't make you talk about anything you don't want to talk about, okay?"

  "Okay," she says, and finally... fucking finally, I see a measure of peace in her look. She even lets out a sigh of relief as she clasps her hand around my wrist, giving it a small squeeze.

  We stare at each other... a silent understanding... a tentative new bond formed. I'm her lover and protector now, and let's not forget... I'm her friend. Her second favorite person in the world, and I will try my damnedest to not fuck a single one of those things up.

  Warm appreciation. That's what I get with her look.

  Macy's eyes have sizzled with lust, vibrated with need, gone dark with desire.

  But right now... the fact that she appreciates me being there for her?

  It's the best look I'll ever get from this woman.

  The spell is broken when Mac says, "Are you going to call your mom back?"

  My hand drops and I look quickly to Mac, and then back to Macy in question. "Your mom called?"

  Shooting up out of the chair, she pushes past me... not in a dismissive way, but in a way that conveys pent-up nervousness. Macy walks over to the refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of water. With her back to us, she addresses Mac's question. "I can't. I know what she wants from me, and I just can't. So no... I don't want to talk to her."

  "Understood," Mac affirms, every nuance in that three-syllable word screaming loud and clear that we apparently need to protect Macy from her mother as well.

  I'm so fucking confused as to what's going on.

  I've got a girlfriend, who thrives on sex but is relationship averse, who has no rapport or bond with her parents, and it's clear something bad has happened between her and them. There's a mysterious trip to Brussels that is clearly traumatic to Macy, and the feds are overly interested in it as they pursue white-collar indictments against her father. It seems Mac and Macy talk in code half the time, and most of the information I've gotten so far has been from my prior ex-best friend and his reading of some news channels on the internet.

  I basically don't know a fucking thing.

  Rolling my shoulders, I force myself to relax. Macy either will or won't share with me, but regardless, I'll do whatever I can to support her. Until she figures out just how far she wants to let me in the circle of trust, I'm going to have to give her the room to figure out exactly what this relationship means to her.

  Chapter 3

  From the Diary of Macy Carrington:

  Dear Diary,

  I'm not even sure where to begin.

  It's all crashing down, and I don't know how to stop it.

  Maybe I'm depending on Cal to stop it, but is it fair of me to expect him to do that when he doesn't even know what it is?

  He staye
d all night again at my place. Second night in a row.

  In some ways, it was no different from the first night. We had sex. Incredible, mind blowing, and pulse-pounding sex. It was, as always, more than I could ever hope for with a man. It left me satisfied, it left me mellow, and it was even easier to snuggle into his arms and let him hold me. It didn't feel as odd, and I'll even admit--I might have even craved the security of it.

  In some ways, it was a bit different, because now there's a dark cloud hanging over both of us. While I'm sure Cal always suspected there was something in my past that accounted for my abnormal appetites and proclivities, as well as my aversion to intimacy, now he knows without a doubt that there is something there.

  That it has to do with my parents.

  With Brussels.

  The only thing that kept me in place... that let me accept Cal's heated touches and then his soft embrace, was that we sat down and talked after Mac and Matt left. He reassured me that I didn't have to share a damn thing with him. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Macy... you have secrets. They are yours to do with what you want. If you trust them to me, I'll do everything within my power to make sure they can't hurt you. But if you want to keep them close, it doesn't mean that I respect you any less."

  I was so grateful for the way in which he put me at ease, I stunned the fuck out of myself and leaned in for an unsolicited hug. I held him tight and whispered, "Thank you". I wished with all my might as I breathed in his scent that I had the courage to give it all to him. Deep down... I know it's the right thing to do. Deep down, I know that giving the burden to another person would help ease the weight of it on me.

  But it's just not something I could bring myself to do.

  I've ignored my mom's phone calls. Didn't even have the stomach to listen to her voice mails. I know they'll be filled with sobs and pleading, and I'm afraid that despite everything my mother is and isn't to me, there's a chance that I'll still fall prey to the fact that she is my mother. She bore me, and I'm afraid I might owe her just for that.

  Cal left this morning after I agreed to make eggs and bacon. We had a leisurely breakfast and tried to make the less than awkward conversation that always seems to come in the bright light of day. He gave me a swift kiss after and left, claiming the need to get back to his apartment for a new set of clothes as he had been in his for two days now. He told me he'd be back at ten AM to pick me up, and that I was to dress casual.

  No clue what he has planned, but I've seemingly gotten past my reservations about going out on "dates" with him. I guess perhaps if my life is getting ready to crumble, I better start creating a bucket list of things I need to do, and I'll just go ahead and say that trying new things with Cal will take up a good chunk of that list.



  Chapter 4

  I want to see Macy relaxed. I want her to tilt that strawberry head back to the sun, put her bare feet up on my dashboard, and let the breeze from the open window blow all her worries away.

  Right now, she sits in the passenger seat of my car with her hands clasped primly in her lap, nibbling on her lower lip. I can't even imagine the things going through her head.

  "You haven't asked where we're going," I say into the heavy silence.

  She never looks at me but keeps her eyes facing forward. "I guess I'm feeling adventurous."

  "Better than apathetic, I guess." I keep my tone overly teasing.

  That gets a small smile, and she angles her face toward me. I turn to glance at her just for a moment... blue eyes sparkling, skin freshly washed, hair pulled back into a ponytail. She looks like an angel.

  "So, where are we going, Cal?" she drawls, and then turns to look back out the window.

  "To my parents' house," I respond neutrally, and then I wait for the fall out.

  It doesn't take long.

  "What?" she exclaims as she whips around in her seat, her entire body straining at the seatbelt as she faces me.

  "My parents," I confirm casually. "Mom's going to cook a big Sunday lunch. Figured we could eat, hang out a bit, and walk around the orchard."

  "The orchard?" she rasps, although I can tell she's still mostly confused about me taking her to my parents' house. She and I both know if I had gotten her thoughts on doing this first, she would have refused to come.

  "Yeah, my parents own a small, organic apple orchard," I tell her matter-of-factly, while keeping one eye on her so she doesn't try to jump out of a moving car. "It's in Warwick... only about an hour and a half drive."

  "They sell apples?" she asks, almost in a daze.

  "Organic apples," I clarify. "Mostly to local markets and stores, although they have their own small general store on the property that sells stuff from other farmers like jams, wines, bakery stuff. They also make their own cider, which is really, really good. You'll love it."

  She's silent a moment. A quick glance shows her eyebrows are furrowed with worry and she's now chewing heartily on her lower lip. In a deliberately soft voice, she asks, "You're taking me to meet your parents at their organic apple orchard?"

  "Well, they have a house there too," I tease, and then to make sure she's okay with this, I reach over and take her hand to give it a squeeze. "Relax. It will be fun, and you need a little bit of fun."

  "Meeting parents is not fun," Macy blurts out in a panicked voice. "I mean... what will you introduce me as? Your current fuck?"

  I squeeze her hand one more time, and then chastise her. "Come on, Macy. We talked about that. You agreed... we're more than that, right?"

  She mumbles something, but it sounds like assent.

  "I'm going to introduce you as my girlfriend, which is what you are, and which is already what they know you to be."

  "You told your parents about me?" she asks as her head whips my way again.

  "Sure, why not? I kind of like you, you know." I lob a quick grin at her.

  "Oh, fuck," she says as she sits up straight in her car seat. "Do your parents know what's going on with my father?"

  "I doubt it," I say as I reach over to squeeze her shoulder, and then I push her back down into her seat. "I didn't tell them who your parents were. If they saw it on the news, they'd probably just think your last name and theirs is a coincidence."

  Macy shrugs my hand off. In dramatic fashion, she crosses her arms over her chest and slouches down in her seat. "Fine," she grumbles. "But you better fill me in on your family a bit more. You know... since I'm your girlfriend and all."

  Settling back in my own seat a bit more comfortably now that I'm confident she's not going to throw herself out of my car, I tell her everything about the Carsons. "My dad, Martin, retired from the Navy about ten years ago and immediately went stir crazy after about a month. So he bought Hazentree Farm in Warwick, much to my mom's surprise. But she took one look at the farm, fell in love with it, and left her job as a coroner to become a farmer with Dad."

  "A coroner?" Macy asks skeptically. "You're kidding?"

  "I never kid about death. But you'll be surprised when you first meet my mom--her name is Cheryl, by the way. She looks more like a hippie than a coroner."

  "Well, because she sells organic apples now," Macy says drily.

  "She looked like a hippy even when she was cutting on dead people," I assure her.

  Macy gives a little snort and asks, "You have siblings, right?"

  "Yup," I say proudly. Because fuck... I love my brothers and sister. "Steve is in the Navy... followed in Dad's footsteps, and he's stationed in Hawaii. Colton is a physical therapist and works over in Long Island, and Melody is the baby... she just turned twenty-five and is working on her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology. She wants to get into research."

  "Impressive," Macy murmurs.

  "They won't be there today, but they're all great. Easy going, laid back. You'd love them."

  Macy doesn't respond for a moment, and I expect she's got a million questions running through her head about my family. Perhaps she's trying to sort them,
perhaps she's still reeling from the fact I practically hijacked her to go meet my mom and dad.

  I'm stunned, however, when she says, "I hate my parents."

  "What?" I ask her with a quick, worried glance.

  "I hate my parents," she says simply, and then a tiny laugh pops out of her mouth. "How awful am I to think that? To say that out loud to you? I bet you probably can't even comprehend that."

  I hesitate only a moment before saying, "You're right. I can't comprehend it, but only because I love my parents so much. They're amazing people. They deserve that love. And while I really have never felt the emotion of hate before, I've come close to it. I know it's an emotion that doesn't just pop up overnight. I know it's built upon, and while I don't know the specifics, I do know you, and therefore, I believe you must have a good reason to feel that way."

  More silence... but just a moment, and then she says, "I can't talk about it. Maybe one day, but for now... I want you to know, the reason it's so hard for me is because what happened in Brussels was the defining moment. It's when my love turned to hate."

  Nausea roils in my stomach. I want to pull the car over on the side of the road and yank her onto my lap. I want to hug and kiss it all away. I want to squeeze her so hard that she has no doubt there are people that care for her, no matter what has happened in her past. I want to impress upon her that you can have hate in your heart for some but tremendous capacity to still love, because I know she thinks otherwise.

  I want so many things for Macy, and the pisser of it is... I might not have the capability to give her any of it. She might not let me give it to her.

  We're bordering on some very dangerous, emotional territory for Macy. While she'll never share everything at this point, she proved once again that she can open up to me in tiny increments. And there is something I definitely must know if I'm going to do an adequate job of protecting her without knowing the details.

  "I'm not asking what happened in Brussels," I start to put her at ease. "That's yours alone to handle for now. But I do need to know... so I can protect you... was there any criminal wrongdoing on your part?"