What Might Have Been

By: Wendi Zwaduk

Chapter One

“I didn’t disappear and I never faded away.” Macy leaned against the door of her truck and crossed her ankles as she sang along with the country song playing in her head. Funny how the class reunion   seemed more like a time of rebirth rather than reminiscing. From her vantage point on the crumbling sidewalk, she stared up at the looming high school building. Back when she’d attended school there, Mason Senior High hadn’t seemed so scary. Now, the tan and red brick structure reminded her of a prison. In seven days, the prison would be little more than a pile of rubble. Then again, she wouldn’t be around to watch it fall. She’d be in New York signing her contract for her newest book, Cadence, and starting out on her tour for her Slayer series.

She sucked in a long breath to steady her ragged nerves. Maybe no one would recognise her. Blending in had always been her strong point, but this time she wasn’t interested in being a wallflower. One last look at the old building and the perfect chance to prove she’d made something of herself.

One by one, she climbed the front steps and relived the days of her youth. Memories of band pictures, chilly football games, essay questions and walking through cramped hallways bombarded her mind. All those years ago, things had seemed so complicated, like the rest of the world would be easy as long as she wasn’t in school. She snorted.

Not hardly.

Once she’d walked out of the door, diploma in hand, life had crashed down on her—paying for college, living in an apartment the size of a closet, and getting her first job, all while balancing her virtually non-existent social life. Post-high school had its ups and downs, but she’d never trade the experiences. Well, save for her time with Will. She’d gladly trade those years. She clutched her truck keys. At least they weren’t her standard rental car keys.

“I’m not in the same state long enough to need a forwarding address, but I’ve got my one luxury—my truck,” she murmured. Back in school, she’d dreamt of coming back and teaching at good old Mason High. If time had made her anything, it was cautious. Never outstay a welcome and never put down roots. Roots led to feelings and attachments. If she moved around enough, then she had no one to come home to—and no one to hurt, or who could hurt her.

A lock of hair slid over her cheek as she palmed the door handle. She stared at her reflection in the glass. In school, she’d worn her hair in headbands and braids, hesitant to sport makeup. Now she sported gentle waves and had discovered the fun of using cosmetics to accentuate her appearance. The beginnings of laugh lines framed her mouth as she smiled. “Time to shine.”

Macy yanked the door open and started up the massive granite steps in the inner foyer. She had paused to tuck the loose strands behind her ear when someone called her name from behind. At the top of the staircase, she turned. Relief washed over her at the sight of the two men approaching her. “Berto! Remi! I’d hoped you two would show up on time.”

The men in question bounded up the stone steps, wearing matching grins. Berto Katz, the brunet of the pair, swept her into his arms. “And miss an evening to dish with our favourite writer? Hell, yes, we’re on time.” The spicy scent of his cologne wrapped her in warmth. He kissed her cheek and his soft beard tickled her skin. “And we might even take you home for a thorough fucking.”

Heat infused her cheeks and embarrassment raged through her veins. Berto was indeed hot, but he wasn’t the man in her heart—no one was. Though he always knew the right words to take the edge off any heavy situation, making her laugh wasn’t all she wanted in a man. She wanted to be swept off her feet, snagged in a whirlwind of devotion and loved to within an inch of her life—if such a man existed.

Remi Wayne slapped Berto’s muscular biceps once Berto had set Macy back on her feet. “I thought we agreed not to embarrass her—until after she forked over the number for her cover model.” His blue eyes sparkled and the dimple in his cheek deepened. He raked his hand through his sun-kissed blond hair. “That Gerard is one fine-looking hunk of man.”

“You’re right.” Berto faked a pout and tapped his bottom lip with his index finger. “We’ll get the number and then leave her high and dry.”