Mitigation / Page 5

Page 5


My control sort of snaps at this point, and I shove the bloodied document under his nose. My voice raises an octave. “This is not poor work product. This is you desperately trying to find some fault with my work so you can punish me.”

“Punish you?” he sneers as he grabs the document out of my hand. “Why would I possibly do that?”

“Because I cut you off, and you can’t handle the rejection,” I snarl.

Matt laughs at me… a full-blown, mocking laugh. His eyes glint with danger. “Get over yourself, Mac. You were replaced and forgotten just like that.” He snaps his fingers to punctuate the point.

Pain lances at my heart and fury courses through me such as I have never felt before. I have to dig my nails into the palms of my hands to stop from smacking his face.

My voice is venomous, and I’m just one decibel short of an all-out yell. “I can’t take this shit anymore. I did nothing to deserve this.”

I grab the document out of his hand, hoping I leave him with a paper cut or two, push off from his desk, and spin toward the door, intent on leaving. But Matt is quick. I have no clue if he vaulted his desk or ran around it, but within a nanosecond, he has my elbow clutched and he spins me around.

If I thought Matt was angry before, I didn’t know what true anger was. His face is practically contorted in rage when he roars, “You did nothing to deserve this? You f**king denied me.”

You would think that this would be a somewhat selfish and bratty statement on his part. But the anguish with which he says those words cuts me deep. He’s hurt. Truly, deeply hurt, and a pang of sympathy goes through me.

However, I hold my ground but soften my voice. “I denied you nothing, Matt. I simply asked for more.”

Matt’s face undergoes an amazing transformation. The terrible lines of rage disappear. The darkness of his eyes lightens to amber, and his hand falls from my elbow. In an instant, he’s no longer furious but appears stricken by my words.

His eyes lower from my face, and he reaches up to brush his fingers through his hair in bewilderment, turning slightly away from me. Shoulders sagging, he walks back around his desk and sits heavily in the chair. He stares at his computer, but I can tell he sees nothing. He’s only staring at it to avoid looking at me.

“Get out,” he says quietly. “I want another draft of those Answers by the end of the day.”

It’s eerie… the level of uncertainty in his voice right now. Gone is the furious animosity, and all that’s left behind is confusion.

And pain.

My heart tumbles over itself in empathy, and I have a brief moment of hope that maybe… just maybe, that Matt will be receptive to discussing our relationship. I take a step toward his desk. His gaze rises up, and he stares at me blankly.

“Matt… I’m sorry you’re hurting. I am, too. Maybe if we talked this out, we could figure—”

He cuts me off, his face starting to harden again. “There’s nothing to talk about. Now leave.”

I’m losing him, and it makes me desperate. “Please… I want to make this better—”

I’m cut off again by Matt’s mocking laughter. His eyes are once again dark, and my stomach flips over in wariness. “You want to make this better?” he sneers as he stands up from his desk, his hands going to his belt buckle. “The only way you can make this better, Miss Dawson, is if you get over here on your knees.”

Agony courses through my bones over the hurtfulness of those words. This is not the Matt Connover who held me while my mom died. I have no clue where he is, but he’s gone, and I can’t stop the tears that well up in my eyes.

We stare at each other for a moment. His eyes piercing… mine wet.

I suck in a shaky breath, just so I can have the oxygen necessary to say quietly, “You’re despicable.”

Turning around, I start walking toward the door, glad he has only my back so he can’t see the tears that now slide down my cheeks.

“Mac,” he says in a desperate sort of way, but I don’t stop.

When I open the door, he tries again… this time a little more desperate. “Mac.”

I ignore him, stepping out of his office and closing the door behind me. I jump slightly when something crashes from inside his office, and I hear him yell, “FUCK!”

I’m on autopilot. I walk to my office and log off my computer. Packing a few files in my briefcase, as well as shoving Matt’s slaughter of my document in there, I turn my office light out and close the door.

Walking past Bea’s desk on the way through the lobby, I say, “Send all my calls to voice mail. I’m taking two sick days. I’ll be back in on Monday.”

I get just a flash of a surprised look from Bea as I walk by her, and she hesitantly asks, “Are you all right?”

“I will be by Monday,” I tell her confidently.

And I am confident. I’m purging Matt Connover from my mind.

Correction… I’m replacing Matt Connover.

It’s time for another trip to One Night Only.

It’s Friday night. Macy and I have decided to have a “junk” night. That’s where we buy or prepare our favorite “junk” food, and we slug out on the couch to watch movies. It was actually Macy’s idea, which surprises me because this is really not how my girl likes to spend her weekend nights. She’d much rather be knocking boots with some hot stud.

But this is perfect for me. I have my bestie hanging out with me, food to help console me, and my yoga pants on so when I gorge on my “junk” food, I can still feel comfy.

Besides, it’s not like I had anything better to do. I mean… who was I kidding? When I walked out of the office yesterday morning, telling myself the only way to get rid of Matt Connover from my existence was to screw someone else, I was living in a dream world. I just didn’t have it in me to use rebound sex as a means of forgetting. I was stuck depending on the only true cure… time.

Yesterday, I worked from home making the changes that Matt demanded on my document. I emailed them to him with a short note saying, “Here are the changes requested.”

He immediately fired back an email, clearly not even having bothered to read the attached document. It said, “Are you okay? Miss Anders said you were taking a few sick days.”

I actually laughed out loud at that. I mean, how dare he act concerned? He told me just a few hours before to get on my knees—a thought that actually had me slightly horny and greatly embarrassed that it made me horny.


I didn’t even bother replying, and he never sent me another email.

Macy walks out of the kitchen with her hand stuffed down a bag of Cheetos. She plops on the couch next to me, daintily nibbling on the end of one. “So, what movie do you want to watch first?”

Leaning over, I pick up the DVDs I rented. “Let’s see… we have Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, or The Avengers.”

“Hmmmm. I’m sensing a theme here,” she muses. “Why the need for super-hero action?”

Shrugging my shoulders, I grumble, “I just need to see some hot men in tight clothing to distract me.”

Macy leans over and pats me on the knee. She knows exactly what happened with Matt on Thursday and has been babying me a bit since then. I suspect that’s why she’s with me now on “junk” night rather than hooking up with some random.

Grabbing Thor, because let’s face it… he’s the yummiest of the choices, I put it in the DVD player and head back to the couch. Just as I’m sitting down, my phone buzzes, indicating I have a text. Picking it up, I feel a zap of electricity course through me when I see Matt’s name.

The text merely says, I’m sorry.

“It’s from Matt,” I say to Macy, and she leans over my shoulder to look at it.

I immediately write back, For what?

Because if he’s going to apologize sincerely, I want to make him work for it.

A few minutes pass and nothing comes through. Macy and I exchange looks, and then I set my phone down so I can start the movie. Just before I can hit the “Play” button, I get another text.

Fot ebwryrhing

“He’s a terrible texter,” Macy comments.

“And he clearly has his auto-correct turned off,” I add.

I text him back. ?????

For evwtthimf

I start to text back another, “?????” when another message comes through.


Macy snickers and I start to text something, but then the phone starts ringing. It’s Matt.

I answer it and press speakerphone so Macy can hear. “You’re a terrible texter.”

Matt doesn’t say anything, but I can hear a lot of background noise. Loud music and people talking, some yelling, some laughing.


“H-e-e-e-e-y Mac,” Matt practically sings into the phone, his voice happy and carefree. “Didja get my text?”

“Are you drunk?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” he says, and then he yells at someone, “You missed… drink, motherfucker.”

There’s a lot of laughter and then some cheering. I’m glad he’s having such a great time while I’m eating junk food and letting my belly hang out in my yoga pants.

“I don’t have time for this shit. Call me when you’re sober.”

I start to hang up, but Matt says, “Wait! I need to tell you something.”

“What?” I ask in exasperation.

“I just… it’s just… Aw, f**k. I just miss you, McKayla.”

I suck in a quick breath, my heartbeat tripling with his proclamation. Glancing over at Macy, she just sadly shakes her head. She’s thinking the same thing I am… drunks have no inhibitions, and he probably won’t remember a damn word of this tomorrow.

Which pisses me off. I’m getting sentimental and sappy by his claim that he misses me, and come tomorrow, when he’s sober, he probably won’t remember it, and if he does, he’ll probably push it deep down and become the cold-hearted bastard I’ve recently come to know.

“I’m hanging up, Matt. Don’t call back.”

Again, I start to disconnect when Matt says quietly, “I lied, McKayla.”

Macy tries to grab the phone, startling me. I grab it out of her reach and mouth the word, “What?” to her.

She whispers, “Hang up… you don’t need to listen to his bullshit.”

But I can’t… because he might say words that I have been longing to hear, and although they may be drunk words, I will take whatever I can at this point.

“What did you lie about?” I ask him.

“I didn’t use One Night Only again. I just couldn’t go through with it.”

“Why not?” I whisper.

He’s silent for a moment, and all I can hear are the noises of the bar that he’s in. Then he says, “Because I can’t stop thinking about you. You’re all I want.”

I’m all he wants? My heart flutters in response and my hopes that Matt and I could truly be something start to rise.

But then Matt causes me to come crashing back down again, because he says, “It’s why I left work at two o’clock today and hit a bar to get shitfaced. So I could drown you out of my mind… even if only briefly. You’re a blessing, Mac… but you’re also my curse.”

I’m stunned speechless and, before I can even say anything back to him, he disconnects and the line goes dead.

I wish there was a magic pill I could take that would ease my heartache. And another pill that would magically ease the way my body still aches for Matt.

This f**king sucks.

All weekend I stewed over his call on Friday night. I vacillated amongst a variety of emotions, trying to decide how to handle the situation.

When I was pissed, I would work myself up and decide to put in my resignation. I even sat at my computer on Saturday and typed it up. It was simple.

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