She remembered the horror and pity on his face when he’d woken up to her sobbing and throwing up. And what he’d said…
God, those words were imprinted in her brain, weighing on all the insecurities she’d felt her entire life.
I can’t be with a woman like you. You represent death to me. I feel sick just looking at you.
She shoved the memory aside, but not fast enough. Her throat grew tight, her stomach churning with bitterness.
She locked the car and tucked her keys into her purse, bleakly wondering if Dan was right. Did she represent death?
Hell, of course she did. Look what happened with Will. She’d given in to her desire, spent a few incredible hours in bed with him, and presto! She had a vision of him dying.
“Wowsers, you look amazing!”
Mac glanced up to see Paula poke her head out of the general store. Swallowing down the pain sticking in her throat, she pasted on a smile. “Thanks, Paula. Closing up soon?”
The other woman grinned. “Of course. I plan on dominating the shooting booth tonight.”
“Well, good luck.”
“Thanks, hon. You really look terrific.” Paula’s face darkened. “You’re not the only one, though. I just saw Will and his new flame stroll by, holding hands like a couple of randy teenagers.”
“I take it you heard about Holly?”
Paula frowned. “They were at the diner earlier. Everyone met her.”
“She seems like a nice girl,” Mac said noncommittally. “Pretty too.”
“I guess,” Paula said in a grudging tone. “Not as pretty as you, though, not by a long shot.”
She laughed. “Holly and I aren’t in competition. Will and I are just friends, remember?”
“I guess,” Paula said again. She paused. “He’s never brought a woman back here before.”
A lump of sadness lodged in the back of her throat. “No, he hasn’t.” Then she forced another smile. “I’m going to grab a bite. I’ll see you later, okay?”
With a wave, Mac crossed the street and headed toward the parking lot of the bowling alley, where the carnival was in full swing. The lot was the only place large enough to accommodate such a big event, and it seemed like everyone in town had decided to make an appearance. Bodies packed the spacious lot, wandering around the fairgrounds. All the rides boasted long lines, and children streaked by her, holding enormous stuffed animals in their hands and shoving pink handfuls of cotton candy into their mouths. Everyone looked like they were having a great time, but Mac only felt tense as she threaded her way through the crowd.
Paula had said she’d seen Will and Holly head over here, but Mac wasn’t sure she was ready to face them again. It didn’t help that Holly was so damn beautiful. Why couldn’t Will have hooked up with an ugly chick, someone who didn’t bring this funny twist of inferiority to Mac’s gut?
She inhaled the scent of fried food and sweet desserts, her gaze fixed on the Ferris wheel, a commanding shape that dominated the large parking lot. As she walked toward it, the mob parted slightly and her breath hitched when she caught sight of Will standing near the iron gate circling the ride. He was alone.
Her pace quickened, along with her heartbeat. Will turned his head at her approach as if he sensed her presence. His eyes smoldered as they rested on her outfit, the tight shirt, the sexy boots.
“Hey,” she said, reaching him.
“Hey,” he answered gruffly.
“Restroom, and then she was going to make a phone call.” His gaze swept over her, causing tingles of heat to spread through her body. “You look…incredible.”
“Thanks.” She awkwardly rested her palms on her sides then glanced up at the lights twinkling on the Ferris wheel. “Have you gone up yet?”
“No.” A hint of a smile. “Want to take a ride?”
Her heart did a little flip. “Holly won’t mind?”
He smiled wryly. “She’s not the jealous type.”
“Oh. Okay then.”
They moved toward the line, but didn’t have to wait more than a few moments before the passengers from the last ride were let off. Neither of them spoke as they walked up to the gate. Will watched her slide into the car, and then sank down next to her, his long legs looking awkward in the small space. The attendant lowered the bar and then the car soared up a few feet, pausing in mid air as the next passengers were let on.
Mac didn’t look at Will, her gaze sweeping around the carnival grounds and empty Main Street instead. They rose higher, and now she could see the entire town, charming houses, tidy lawns, and in the distance the rolling acres of land and dusty two-lane highway that Will drove on each time he came back here from San Diego. His visits had been the highlight of recent years. She always felt better when Will was around.
Pain pierced her heart. Oh God, how would she survive if he died?
“What are you thinking about?” he asked softly.
She finally turned and met his eyes, gorgeous dark eyes that could always see through her. “You. Me.” She changed the subject. “So, are you serious about Holly?”
Something indecipherable flickered on his face. “I could be,” he said with a shrug. “But it’s too soon to tell. It’s only been a week, after all.”
She swallowed. “You met her the day after you left here.”