The Mountain Man's Secret Twins(2)

By: Alexa Ross & Holly Rayner

But he hadn’t been. Or, at least, Austin hadn’t believed Kenzie was a keeper. Kenzie was a beautiful brunette with a broad smile and a medium frame who exercised three times a week at the gym to keep everything tight, or at least tight-ish. But Tori was a stunning blonde with bouncing breasts and a cinched waist. Many of the men at the office had pined after her, speaking about her lovingly at their various company parties. More than once, Kenzie had watched Austin’s eyes glide down Tori’s body, assessing her every angle.

But the saying “boys will be boys” had followed her, keeping her sane, reminding her that what she and Austin had, alone in their apartment, was special. It couldn’t be destroyed.

How had she found out? How had it all come tumbling down, you ask? Well, at lunchtime that very day, Kenzie had checked in on Austin, who had told her he was doing some last-minute touchups for an apartment down the block from their office. With a spare hour at her disposal, Kenzie had decided to grab lunch from his favorite burger place and surprise him there, allowing them a few moments of privacy before returning to their frantic office life.

Of course, they wouldn’t sleep together in another person’s apartment; that was strictly forbidden, and Kenzie liked to play by the rules. She couldn’t afford to get fired. She couldn’t afford to take that chance. Not ever. She’d been at the bottom before, and she wouldn’t go back.

But when Kenzie arrived at the apartment, she found the door cracked open. Clinging to the greasy bag of food, she tipped the door open more and listened, her mouth ajar, as the sounds of lovemaking, moaning, met her ears. Immediately, she panicked. Had the owners of the apartment returned, thus ruining Austin’s plans to complete the apartment in time? Who was going to wash the sheets? She shifted her weight, hating that she’d been listening for so long.

Immediately, it struck her that she should call Austin and tell him what was going on. She lifted her phone and dialed quickly, still listening to the moaning inside the apartment. If she closed the door too loudly and was caught, she’d be mortified.

But as the phone rang, she heard a familiar ring on the other side of the door, coming from the direction of the bedroom. She stopped, tilted her head, and realized that the lovemaking and moaning had stopped. She heard muffled words from down the hallway, someone saying, “Who is it?”

And a familiar, gruff voice saying, “It’s her. It’s Kenzie.”

“Let it ring,” the other voice said, giggling. “It’s our time right now.”

Kenzie’s eyes had grown wide, realizing that the other voice was Tori’s and that Tori and Austin were inside, naked, sweating, touching. She shivered and took a step back, feeling as if she were at the bottom of a well, looking up at another reality, another world—one she was no longer a part of.

She walked back to the office, taking a small bite of a burger before tossing it in the trash. She hated the taste of the meat against her tongue, the feel of the grease between her teeth. When she returned to the office, she immediately threw up, feeling the weight of Austin’s infidelity upon her shoulders. This was something that happened to other girls, not her. And yet, here she was.

Sitting there, in her chair, still in shock and waiting for Tori and Austin to return, she realized she had to leave. She couldn’t remain in the office another second, not when she knew Austin and Tori would march in, laughing, salty from sex, in just an hour’s time. She lifted a sheet of paper from her desk and scribbled on it, writing the words in jagged handwriting: “I know. Be out of the apartment before the weekend. I’m going away for a few days. No questions.” She turned toward Austin’s desk, folded the sheet of paper, and smacked it in the center. The noise was a bit too loud, causing the secretary to begin whispering to another coworker, her dark green eyes still upon Kenzie. But Kenzie was far from caring.

She sent an email to her boss, explaining that she’d canceled her client meetings over the next few days and she’d be in Vermont to “clear her head.”

“Go ahead,” her boss emailed back. “We’ll see you when you’re ready to return.”

From the email, Kenzie realized that her boss had known this day was coming all along. He’d probably recognized Tori and Austin’s affection for one another long before and had decided to stay out of it, for better or for worse.

As she sat, stewing, she clicked around online, checking out a few Vermont cabins near the ski resorts. She imagined having the entire creaky cabin to herself: making tea, reading poetry, trying to remind herself what made her unique, what made her who she was, beyond Austin. The photos seemed fine, displaying a rugged interior and a large, crooked bed.

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