It's been three years. Three years since I walked away from my life... since I died. It wasn't what I wanted to do but at the time I didn't think I had a choice. I had made a new enemy and he wasn't above using my friends to get to me. And I didn't want Judson and Gabe involved in any of that. But I knew if I just disappeared or ran, the bastard would still go after them as a way to flush me out. So I did what I had to do. I died. In front of my friends. Then fell of the cliff and my body disappeared.
I watched my burial from a distance. God, the look on Judson's face tore my heart out. He was my best friend and I loved him. And Gabriel. His pain was no less. I could see it on their faces. But I couldn't undo it then. I had to follow through with my plan until I could sort out my mess. Judson and Gabe were safe as long as everyone thought I was dead.
And it worked. With death came anonymity. I could move around like a ghost. Sorting out the mess and destroying the man who had tried to destroy me. And I did it. He's dead and everything is as it should be. Well, except for everyone still thinking I'm dead. That's why I came here. To come forward and try to make Judson understand. I thought I was prepared for anything I'd find. But this wasn't something I was prepared for.
I stand in the doorway watching the two men sleep in each other's arms. Gabe lying on his side with Judson wrapped protectively around his back. When did this happen? I never thought either of them were interested in other men. Especially not Judson. Ok, if I'm honest with myself I'll admit that I always harbored the hope that Judson and I would end up together. But then wasn't the time. And now... obviously, now I'm too late.
What right do I have to show up and throw their lives into a tailspin? For three years they've thought me dead. They mourned for me then they moved on with their lives. It would be selfish of me to come back now and try to reclaim the life I gave up three years ago.
"I love you both. Be happy." I whisper then slip back off the boat.
I jerk awake as I feel my lover's body tense. "Gabe?"
He doesn't say anything. I lean up to look into his face. He's white as a sheet. I reach up and flick on the light. "What is it?"
His eyes are locked on the doorway. I look but don't see anything. "Gabe?"
"I'm alright. I... I just thought..."
I run my hand through his hair as I try to settle him down. "Thought what?"
He looks at me and I can see the tears in his eyes. "I saw her, Judson. She was standing in the doorway."
I close my eyes as the old pain hits me. It's been years but I still miss her. She was my best friend and part of me died with her. "Judson?"
"You were dreaming, Gabe."
He shook his head and sat up. "I know what I saw. I heard a noise and opened my eyes to see her turning to leave. I saw her, Judson."
"It was a trick of the moonlight, Gabe. You know Mac is dead."
His head drops into his hands. "I know. But she looked so real."
I slide closer to him and wrap him in my arms. Mac's death had shaken him badly. "It wasn't real."
He leans back against me and I kiss his neck. "Come back to bed, Gabe. We leave early tomorrow."
We get settled into bed and I look back at the doorway as my arms tighten around my lover. Maybe Gabe did see something. It wouldn't be the first time we've experienced unexplained events. And it would be just like Mac to show up as a ghost to check up on us. Wonder what she'd think of the new relationship Gabe and I have? I like to think she'd approve.
I watch from the shadows as they get the boat ready to set sail. A part of me wants to run over and let them know that I'm alive and I'm here but I don't move. I gave up the right to be a part of their lives when I walked away and let them believe me dead. My best intentions don't change or undo the pain I caused them. They've gone on with their lives and now I have to do that as well.
MacKenzie Previn has to stay dead. I wipe at the tears as I turn and disappear once and for all.