“Yeah, we’re on,” she finally said. “I’ll meet you in the square in fifteen.”
“I love it,” Paula declared fifteen minutes later, holding up the pendant to admire it. The late afternoon sun caught on the little gold heart, making it sparkle.
Mackenzie gave a wry smile. “You hate it, and we both know it. It’s not your style at all.”
She emphasized her remark by shooting a pointed look at all the jewelry currently draped over various parts of the older woman’s body. A chunky silver necklace hung around Paula’s neck, and the numerous bracelets around her wrists boasted colorful costume gems and dangling charms. Even Paula’s wedding ring, a thin silver band encrusted with little diamonds, seemed elaborate in comparison to the simple necklace Mac had created for the woman. Not that Paula’s accessories were gaudy—if anything, Mac’s necklace was just too plain.
Paula laughed. “If it’s not my style, then why did you make it for me?”
“Because it’s as far as my skill can take me,” she grumbled.
“Well, if you just let me pay you for reading my fortune, then we wouldn’t have to go through this jewelry pretense, now would we, hon?” The lines around Paula’s mouth creased in amusement. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m willing to buy all the necklaces you want to make me. But don’t kid yourself, Mackenzie Wade. You’re not a jewelry maker, plain and simple. You’re a psychic.”
Mac tried not to flinch. She hated that word. Hated it. She wasn’t in denial; she was quite aware that her visions did indeed make her psychic. She just didn’t like thinking of herself as that. Ever since she was a little girl, she’d struggled with her gift. She loathed the visions. Didn’t need ’em, didn’t want ’em. And, as an adult, she’d tried hard to distance herself from them.
She’d graduated from high school, gone to college, learned how to make jewelry. She’d moved back to Hunter Ridge, determined to work on her craft and start a business, and though the townsfolk humored her by buying her pieces, Mackenzie wasn’t stupid. She knew they only cared about her psychic abilities. She also knew most of them considered her a freak. They might chat with her in the supermarket, or strike up friendly conversations at the local bar, but their minds were always on her abilities. Wondering if she’d seen something terrible happen to them, thinking of a way to ask her about their future without looking like that’s all they wanted.
Only a few people seemed to genuinely care about her, visions or not. Paula Durtz was one of them. Will was another.
An ache seized her chest at the thought of Will.
Helicopter falling from the sky…
“Mackenzie? Honey, you okay?”
Paula’s voice sliced through her painful thoughts. Tears stung her eyelids, and she turned away from the other woman’s concerned gaze, instead pretending to focus on a few fat pigeons sitting on the large fountain in the middle of the town square.
It was a gorgeous day, the sun high in the blue, cloudless sky, a warm breeze floating through the town. You’d never think a fierce storm had passed through here less than a week ago, but it had, and along with turning Mackenzie’s entire world upside down, she’d heard the town had suffered some damage too. Lightning had struck one of the shops lining idyllic Main Street, and apparently a tree cracked in two and smashed into the roof of the bowling alley. When Mac had gone into town the next day, a few people even had the audacity to ask her why she hadn’t seen the storm coming. Ha. Like her visions could be controlled.
“Don’t be angry with me, hon.”
She nearly fell off the bench they were sitting on when she felt Paula’s warm hand on her knee. With a strained smile, she said, “I’m not angry with you. I was just thinking about the storm last weekend.”
Paula smiled knowingly. “Will was in town then, wasn’t he?”
Mackenzie wasn’t surprised that the other woman knew about Will’s visit. Paula owned the one and only general store in town, and she knew everything and anything that went on in Hunter Ridge. Ever since Paula’s husband died two years ago, the woman had thrown herself into that store, and she rarely closed shop before two in the morning. Since Will would’ve had to drive through Main Street when he got to town, Paula would have noticed his car. She noticed everything.
“Yeah, he was here,” Mac admitted.
“Did you two have a nice visit?”
“Not really.” She shrugged. “We fought.”
Paula raised her eyebrows. “Now, I don’t believe that. You and Will have been inseparable since high school. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so much as raise your voices at one another.”
Another shrug. “There’s a first time for everything, I guess.”
Oh, yeah, definitely a first time for everything—like having mind-blowing sex with her best friend.
“But you made up, right?”
“Actually, I haven’t seen or spoken to him since,” Mac said evenly.
She wished the bitterness in her voice wasn’t so obvious, but she couldn’t help it. Yes, Will’s stony departure had been her fault. She’d refused to open her heart to him, to give him what he wanted, and she didn’t blame him for being mad. But not even a phone call since he’d left.
She knew he wasn’t out of the country, since he always called or texted her when he left on assignment, so the silence on his part bothered her.