CHAPTER 1: Crumbling

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"OH, I didn't know that you are still alive, D'Laurent."

"Unfortunately, I still am, honey," Sawyer chuckled at Mackenzie's antics. He placed his cellphone on the table and wore his earbud. He just got back to his office from a two-hour conference and he even hadn't had dinner yet. "What's up? I've been calling you the entire afternoon and you seemed busy and all. Having so much fun, I see?"

"Oh, having a blast, actually, You just don't know how much fun we're having here," Mackenzie replied sarcastically. "Yeah of course, how would you know, right?"

He smirked as he went through the documents piled up on his table. He heard her sigh on the other end and that only meant one thing. Mackenzie Lorraine Higgins is on the verge of getting furious at him. Again.

"Why the call, Sawyer? Aren't we done already?"

"Done? What do you mean, we are done already?"

He heard her laugh. "Have you bumped your head or something? Or your ever so loyal assistant didn't convey my message clearly?"

"Come on, Zee. Don't be so immature about this."

And then silence. All he could hear was the loud music in the background and her best friend's shrill voice that could easily break glass. Mackenzie and Lucy have been inseparable since high school and sometimes, he wanted to ask her why because Lucy is the complete opposite of her. But what could he do? Mackenzie has always been choosy when it comes to making friends and she considers Lucy not just her best friend but her sister from another mother. To be fair, Lucy has always been there for her for comfort and yeah, for amusement especially in times when he couldn't find time to spend with her. Like tonight.

"I can barely hear you, Zee. Where are you anyway?"

"Oh what is it to you where I am?"

He chuckled once again, trying to hide his frustration. "Come on. As much as I wanted to be there, you know that-"

"That you are the new CEO of D'Laurent Winery, you are tied up to your schedule, yadda, yadda, yadda." Again, she sighed. "Well, what's the use anyway? I am so done preaching. I don't want to waste my time and my energy talking to you about this."

"Zee-"

"Look, I am a busy person too, Sawyer, just to remind you. I have my own business to manage as well but I always make sure to find time for us."

"And I appreciate you more because of that."

"Oh, do you? Really?"

"I'll just make it up to you next time, I promise."

"Oh, I don't know why I should still believe your promises."

"Because you love your CEO boyfriend, that's why."

"Don't be so full of yourself, D'Laurent."

"Well, I'm just telling the truth."

"Well, I hate you now, to tell you the truth."

He gave a mirthless laugh. "I already know that, actually."

"And aren't you gonna do something about it, then?"

Sawyer already knew where this conversation would lead so he just went along with it. "Fine. I will try to cancel the rest of my appointments this weekend, is that what you want?"

"No," she maintained. "I don't want you to try, Sawyer. I want you to actually do it."

"Fine, fine. I'll be there." He closed his eyes and massaged his temple as if it could help him get away from the conversation.

"Should I take your word for it?"

He took a deep breath. "Yes," he said even though he's not even sure how to get away from all his prior engagements - two meetings on Saturday and Sunday brunch with potential Asian distributors.

"What am I going to do with you if you don't keep your promise?"

"Forget about me. Break up with me, whatever you want."

"As far as I can remember, I've already broken up with you earlier tonight, D'Laurent."

"Then break up with me again."

He said it so confidently that he almost believed himself. Mackenzie just laughed at him because it wasn't the first time that they had this kind of conversation. She gets mad, he comforts her and promises her things, and just like that, she loves him again just like before. She may be spoiled and all but she can be easily pleased. She could be a pain in the ass but most of the time, she's a very ideal girlfriend. She's sweet and thoughtful and though they don't see each other often, she always makes it a point to visit him at the office or arrange a romantic dinner for them at least two times a month.

He's thankful for Mackenzie, really. She makes his life easier to manage considering how demanding his job is. She supports him in all his endeavors and she knows when to bug him and when to take a hike. But these past few days, he's not sure anymore. Something was off with her and their arguments now last for days, unlike before when she won't quit until they kiss and make up before they call it a day. She used to be patient with him and she was always ready to forgive.

Probably just birthday blues, he thought. Sawyer took a deep breath. He went back to his chair and focused his attention to the phone call.

"Zee, still there?" He could still hear Mackenzie over the phone but the loud music in the background was obscuring her voice.

"I'm going to wait for you here D'Laurent. Don't make me wait too long or you'll regret it."

"Noted, ma'am." He couldn't help but smile. She just misses him, that's it. He must admit that he misses her most of the time but unfortunately, he doesn't have the luxury to dwell on it. No matter how much he wanted to spend more time with Mackenzie, it's impossible at the moment. He has to work hard, harder than he used to because all eyes are on him especially now that he's been chosen as the new Chief Execute Officer of their D'Laurent Bros Winery.

"Good."

"I love you," he whispered, trying to be sweeter than usual. "You know that, don't you?"

"I know, Sawyer. But I need more than that. I need you here now."

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