Chapter Twenty-One ~ Part Three

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“Are you ever going to speak to me again?” Adam ventured bravely after nearly two hours of silence.

Mac sighed. Too tired to talk, let alone argue with him, she ignored his question and continued driving on autopilot towards the Waterfall.

He didn’t ask a second time.

She hadn’t actually spoken a single word to him since his drunken, vitriolic outburst at dinner last night, but he wasn’t alone. She’d said barely anything to anyone.

After apologising to her guests for his eruption, she had assured them that they would receive a refund, proportionate to the lack of peaceful luxury that they were supposed to have experienced on the trip and then, with a request not to be disturbed unless there was an emergency, she had excused herself for the rest of the evening.

Dragging her camp bed just outside of the sandy bowl, she had promptly climbed in fully clothed, with the bottle of Tequila that Felix had gifted her tucked under her arm, and squeezed her eyes shut tight.

Melodramatic? Perhaps. But as the alternative was to run away, Mac had felt that literally hiding under a rock for several hours, was preferable.

It was fair to say that she was in a state of shock. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t directly caused by Adam’s behaviour, or the fact that he had, quite possibly, hammered the last nail in Mackinley’s coffin. No, the shock that had caused Mac to lie awake the entire night, physically shaken, was her own doing, because she had realised, that in the few awkward seconds of silence after Adam had said what he’d said, she’d found herself wondering if perhaps, he was right.

The thought that Felix might only want her so that he could secure his future at Mackinley, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, began gnawing away at her, and she’d been doing battle with herself ever since.

On one hand, sensible, rational Mac believed that Adam was wrong, evidenced by that fact that Felix had been nothing but understanding and patient since the surprise arrival of her ex on the scene. He’d given her all the space she needed to make her own decisions, to work out what it was she wanted for herself, and hadn’t even lost his cool when it would have been considered perfectly understandable if he had. These weren’t the moves of someone desperate to further their own cause. Were they?

Then on the other hand, irrational Mac was thinking that this may be precisely what someone would do. One of the first, and sometimes hardest, lessons learnt in love, was that the more jealousy-led restrictions and boundaries put up around someone, the more tempted they are to break through. Anyone who had ever been a teenager in love knew this. Felix would know this. So, could his indifference have been a calculated risk? Like calling her bluff? If it was, then it had certainly worked well. The more he’d withdrawn from her sexually and emotionally, the more she’d wanted him.

Oh God, she felt sick.

#

By the time the two trucks made it to the last camp site it was midday.

The falls had the same effect on its latest batch of visitors as it had had on its last, and with the uncomfortable quiet hush that had been present at breakfast now gone, the group chatted excitedly as they set about their tasks as quickly as possible, all eager to get undressed and head into the cool, clean waters which, had been topped up by the storm on the night of the triplets’ birthday.

“Hey, how are you going?” Lori approached Mac softly.

“I’m ok, thanks.” Mac smiled politely as she threw a sheet and pillow into one of the netted capsules and zipped it shut again, safe from unwanted, crawling guests.

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