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Authors: Delaine Roberts

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Fiction

Chasing Air (3 page)

BOOK: Chasing Air
10.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Veronica would’ve liked to get further into conversation with Mak, but their peaceful time was interrupted with communication from the metro ambulance.

“We’re in route to you with five patients. The driver of the big rig is going to be in the first ride, he’s critical from a roll over, and the family of four with minor injuries will be coming together in a second truck,” the paramedic said.

The shift change rush had begun.







At home and in bed, Makenzie tossed and turned, trying to get a nap. It was her Saturday off and she hadn’t planned to spend all day in bed, but the week had exhausted her and she needed to get a bit of shut-eye. Unable to relax enough to sleep, she decided to go for a swim. Suiting up in one of her bikinis, she threw on a cover up, then packed a bag with her iPad, tanning oil, sunglasses, and a bottle of water before heading out to the fantastic pool.

Makenzie picked out an area in the corner that was partially in the shade of an umbrella but would allow her to get some sun on her legs. She noticed a couple of guys at the bar who were chatting and watching her. She kept a close eye on them. It made her a bit nervous when men stared. They were both very attractive, and close by were a pack of gals chatting back and forth with them, leading her to believe they were harmless. She removed her cover up and started applying suntan oil to her legs. It didn’t take one of the guys long to make his way to her quiet corner.

“It’s really hot out today. I thought you might need a chilled bottle of water.” He handed her the partially frozen bottle of water.

“Thank you, cold water would be great.”

“Do you need a hand with the sun-block before


I go?”

He was really gorgeous.
Hmm, dangerous
, she thought. Tall, dark and very handsome. He wasn’t wearing a swim suit. He wore dress khaki shorts, a dress shirt, and Cole Haan sandals.

“I’m Jonathan Bain. You’re Dr. Holder, correct?” He offered Makenzie his hand.

As she shook his hand, “Yes, I’m Makenzie Holder. But I don’t recall having met you.” Panic made her throat tight.
How did he know her
, she wondered. She had no recollection of him.

“We didn’t. Sarah, the property manager, is my sister. When you moved in, I signed for your furniture while I was in her office. I didn’t mean to be presumptuous.
My family owns this property. I work on the development side of the business. I’ve tried to get to know the residents as they move in. We want to know that everyone’s happy here.” He stood to leave, pulling a business card from his wallet to present to Makenzie.

“Please call me Mak. Nice to meet you. I haven’t met any of my neighbors since moving in. Although, I do work some crazy hours at the hospital which doesn’t leave me much time to hang out.” She put his card in her bag and retrieved the bottle of water.

When she opened the water, it sprayed all over both of them. Jonathan quickly grabbed a towel and wiped the water from Makenzie’s cheek and his arms.

“Oh crap, the bottle was under pressure. So sorry, I didn’t intend on getting you all wet.” She chuckled, because it looked as though he had peed in his shorts.

“It’s no problem, these shorts dry quickly, but I’ll be changing in a minute anyway. We have a group going out for sushi at Kampai. Why don’t you join us? You know my sister, Sarah, and now you’ve met me. That gentleman over there is my brother-in-law, Edward. Say yes, and we’ll introduce you to a dozen more folks before the evening is over.”

He waited for her reply with baited breath. She was a beautiful woman, single, and she had his attention. He had no intentions of taking no for an answer.

“I don’t think so, but I appreciate the offer.”

“Come on, surely you love sushi? It’s healthy right?”

Makenzie thought for a moment. She heard the voice of Veronica in her head, reminding her that she needed to get out more.

“I don’t
know how long I’ll last since I worked last night, but yes, I’d love to join you, if it won’t be too many people.” Makenzie had a huge smile on her face. She was excited about the possibility of making new friends. “I’ll meet you there. What time?”

Jonathan thought that if he didn’t lock her in to meeting him, she might chicken out and not show. “Just meet us in the lobby at seven-fifteen and we’ll all go over together. The food is amazing and you’ll enjoy the atmosphere. I’ll see you shortly.” He handed her the towel before he walked away.

Makenzie set an alarm on her phone and proceeded to kick back for a nap in the sun. She drifted off to sleep thinking about her evening and what she was going to wear. She was excited for a fun night out and a chance to make new friends.




The alarm sounded, abruptly bringing Makenzie out from a deep nap. She had been asleep for two solid hours, which would help her for an evening out. Taking a dip in the pool to cool off, Makenzie noticed that she was the only one in the pool area except the maintenance guy. Where had everyone gone while she was asleep? Had the apocalypse happened without her knowing it? The area was hauntingly quiet and suddenly made her body go on alert. She grabbed her things and quickly returned to her loft.

Old ghosts. Her life was full of them. She knew she needed to move past her fears and get on with her life, but it had been a struggle.

Filling her loft with jazzy, soulful music, she poured a glass of wine and headed into her wonderfully spacious closet to pick out her outfit for the evening out with new friends. She lost herself in deep thought about moving forward from her painful past.

There was no way that Drew would ever dream that she was still alive or even if he did, begin to start looking for her as long as she laid low and stayed out of the public eye. Dallas was a big area with millions of people, so she could blend in well. She just needed to relax and enjoy starting life over. As long as she could stick with the plan and the script the FBI had given her, there would be no need to look over her shoulder constantly.

Jonathan didn’t say if they were dining indoors or out or what the restaurant allowed for dress code. She looked up Kampai on the internet. It was in the neighborhood, but she’d never dined there. It looked like a cool place. The site called for smart, casual dress.
Hmm, smart casual
, she mulled over. She pulled out a pair of jeans, a red dressy Vera Wang tank top, and a grey shrug to go over it.
Shoes, which shoes
, she pondered. She loved heels, but didn’t walk in them very gracefully. Years of wearing scrubs and tennis shoes at the hospital had spoiled her. Well, she would just have to bite the bullet, red stilettos were calling her name.
It was going to be a painful night
, she thought,
at least they weren’t dancing

The time out in the sun had added a glow to her skin. After her shower, she applied a glistening bronzing lotion and tried to tame the unruly curls of her long, dark hair. She wanted to look cute, but not desperate. She hoped that it wasn’t going to be all couples and she would be the third wheel, several times over.

It was almost time to go. With a couple of pieces of jewelry, she was put together as best as it was going to happen. She never had claimed to be a fashion diva, but previous years of having to dress nicely on special occasions had prompted her to hire a private stylist. She had learned a great deal about the tricks fashionable people used in pulling outfits together.

Makenzie made it all the way to the elevator before she realized she hadn’t performed her usual ritual of checking each lock three times. What was she thinking? Was she getting too comfortable with this lapse in judgment?

Makenzie returned to the loft. She did her usual double-check of everything. She opened the gun compartment and touched her revolver. She hadn’t feared using it ever since the FBI trained her. She pulled back the drawn curtain and open and closed the lock again. She confirmed the lock of each window. She scanned the room, memorizing it like she did every time she left. Then the realization of what she had done hit her hard. She’d just made plans with a complete stranger. It wasn’t the time to get careless. She sat down on the sofa and thought about calling the whole thing off. It was just dinner with a group of people, at a restaurant within walking distance. No one would care if she cancelled.

I can have a good time, just keep it simple
, she thought.

She looked around her loft and fought the urge to be a coward.

“Live life,” Rosalyn, her therapist, had once said.

She made a final check before leaving again. Some things were better left
as a standard routine. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have enjoyed herself at dinner and would’ve probably ended the night quickly.

She walked through the lobby and found Jonathan standing by the front door, staring intently at the tiny screen on his phone. Her heels made a clicking noise on the floor, making her presence known. He looked up at her with a charming smile. “Hi Makenzie, I’m glad you’re joining us,” he said, presenting her with his arm.

“You can call me Mak if you want.” She felt shy all of a sudden.

As Jonathan escorted her out the door to the waiting valet, she found herself full of nervous energy. “Where are the others, didn’t you say it was a group?” Her voice was a bit shaky. She let go of his arm.

“Yes, there’s ten of us all together. Some of the others went to secure our table. I thought the gentlemanly thing to do was wait on you since it’s your first time with the gang. Here, let me help you in the car.”

Makenzie took a good look at Jonathan as he walked away from her. Tall, full thighs, nice backside in jeans. His dark blue dress shirt opened to reveal a bit of curly hair peeking through the unbuttoned neckline. His dark brown eyes and glossy black hair said Italian descent. He was an attractive man, but she knew all too well that attractive men could be dangerous. Her breath caught at her sudden remorse.

“Hey Jonathan, isn’t it close enough that we could just walk?”

“It is, but sometimes, a few drinks and heels don’t mix. Your choice, if you want to walk?”

Makenzie thought about her situation. She knew she was close enough to run home, sans the shoes, if she needed to. She was torn between letting go of her past and moving forward.

“Sure, I think you’re right.” She waved her hand towards the car.

The valet held the door of the white Range Rover. A classy ride, and it suited Jonathan. He drove to the restaurant. Outwardly, he was polished and professional. She liked that. But it was his soft voice and the way his smile reached his eyes that made her feel comfortable with him right away. For the first time in over a year, she was alone in a car with a male companion other than an FBI agent.

“Do you give all first-timers such personal service?” she asked with a sarcastic punch.

He looked at her quickly, giving her a sheepish grin. “Only the beautiful ones.” His answer spelled out his attraction for her. He was handsome, had a nice car, was witty, and best of all, he didn’t have a wedding ring.

Dropping off the car with the restaurant valet, he once again presented his arm to her, providing an escort to the group already gathered at the table. “Hey guys, say hello to Makenzie Holder. She’s been around for a few months, but hasn’t met any of the crew. Makenzie, this my sister, Sarah and her husband, Edward, and then in order it’s Shellie, Nikki, Ben, Kai, Megan and Jax. Now, the test is to repeat them all back in order--just kidding.” He laughed as he helped her take a seat next to Sarah, then took the seat directly across the table.

The dinner and company was absolutely lovely. The group was having a great time and Makenzie found that she had some things in common with Kai. He was finishing up his residency in pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical School. He and Megan were a couple and lived just underneath her on the 4th floor.

Nikki flirted with Ben like she was very interested in him. Shellie and Nikki were roommates. Ben had just moved in ten weeks ago, so he was still getting settled. He was a pilot, so he had been absent the last few dinners. From the sound of it, this group of people tried to go out every Saturday night.

By the end of the night, she had posed enough questions to the group that she kept the attention away from herself. She discovered that Jonathan was just three years older than her and was divorced with a six-year-old little boy. His ex-wife, Liza, lived close by and they shared parenting.

“Jonathan’s a bit gun-shy over relationships right now. The divorce with Liza was tough on him,” Sarah whispered to Makenzie.

“Sorry to hear that. One of those nasty ones, huh?” Makenzie asked in a comforting tone.

“No, not in that way. Liza left him to rekindle a romance with her high school sweetheart. She said that she never got him out of her system. Jonathan was devastated. Since then, he hasn’t dated anyone.”

“At all?” Makenzie couldn’t figure that out. He was gorgeous and obviously wealthy.

“No, not that I’m aware. Of course, he could be picking up hookers for all that I really know. I’m just his younger sister.” Sarah gave a hearty laugh. Jonathan gave her a mock evil eye.

The group enjoyed the evening and made plans to get together the very next week, same time, and same place, except for Makenzie. Unfortunately, she would be working the following weekend. She had two more weekends to work before her new schedule started as Chief of Emergency Medicine. When she told them she couldn’t join them, she noticed Jonathan’s disappointment.

Sarah whispered in Makenzie’s ear that he had never invited anyone to join them before. She was impressed that he was reaching out of his comfort zone with her. This put a smile on Makenzie’s face.

After dinner, they ventured over to Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar. This was a first for Makenzie, but the rest of the group seemed to be quite at home with the happenings at Pete’s. It was different from other clubs she’d been too, but exceptionally lively.
Dang, now I’m regretting the stilettos,
she thought.

The premise of the club was to write the name of the song down and present it with a little cash tip. All the patrons would sing, dance and otherwise wildly entertain themselves. Jonathan pulled Makenzie close to his side and they danced around their little area a couple of times. She hadn’t had this much fun since her college days. When the bartender announced “last call,” Makenzie suddenly realized that she had been out later than she ever expected and hadn’t even yawned once.

“Wow, last call. I had no idea it was that late.”

“Neither did I. We always have fun when we get together and the time slips away quickly. I hope you’ll join us again, Mak?”

“It would be my pleasure,” she said.

Jonathan drove Makenzie back to the loft. He offered his arm to her as they walked into the lobby and kept close physical contact to her in the elevator. When they got to her door, he turned her to face him and kissed her quickly on the cheek. “I’ve haven’t enjoyed myself this much in such a long time. I’d like to see you again. Since you work next Saturday, is there a chance that I can take you to dinner, sometime this week perhaps?” His voice was low and soft. His full, red lips were posed in a sexy smile. She found him charming and irresistible.

BOOK: Chasing Air
10.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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