Cherrie Mack Lover of Dominant Males & Snarky Heroines

Ache Of Desire – Excerpt

Majestic Oaks, Florida
Summer of 2000

Driving along a barely lit country path, Brian DeMorrow and
Mark Adams navigated their rugged Jeep Cherokee underneath the
dark, overgrown trees. The winding dirt road leading away from the
pit was gravely at first, becoming muddy from the recent rains. After
stopping at the popular general store to purchase some refreshments,
the plan was to return to their girlfriends, who waited for them at the
lake. Brian and Mark were close friends at one time, but as of late had
grown apart, their relationship becoming strained.

At first, Brian thought Mark was a good choice for his sister
Rebecca. Mark treated her well, and they seemed to be genuinely
happy together. The two men were on the same swim team, both
aspired to Olympic medals, but only one was good enough. Brian
surpassed Mark, making huge strides toward his Olympic dream,
while his friend lagged behind. Each day grew more treacherous for
the once-close friends.

Often, Brian would receive sarcastic reminders of his growing success while
Mark’s jealousy and underlying anger oftentimes bubbled to the surface,
leaving Brian bewildered. Lately,he was beginning to figure out a lot
of things Mark had been keeping to himself.
It made him question everything he believed to be true
about his friend. Mark’s extreme wealth, good looks, and gift of gab
propelled him even further toward success. But it was his lack of
endurance in the water that, in the end, was his undoing. Brian
questioned his motives with his sister Rebecca. No longer doting on
her, he was distant and cold.

This ride to the store was a clever ruse to confront him and
question his motives. As if he had choice, he thought. Rebecca had
begged him to salvage what was left of a friendship he was no longer
interested in keeping. But, for his sister, he would do just about
anything. Clearing his throat, he made a familiar croaking sound.
Mark glanced over and studied his friend’s demeanor. “You have
something to say to me, and it’s making you nervous.”
Brian nodded his head yes. “You do know me, I’ll give you that.”
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense, almighty king of the sea.”
There it was. The cynical attitude coupled with the mocking
anger. But this time, Brian gave it back. “I guess that makes you
chicken of the sea.”
* * * *

Rebecca DeMorrow and Lexi Montgomery sat in front of the
bonfire by the lake. This was their final summer respite in Majestic
Oaks. They had been coming here for years. Lexi’s father owned the
big house. The lakefront home was beautiful. The oversized windows
offered a view of all the rental cottages dotting the far side of the
narrow, ten-acre lake. There were paddleboats and a makeshift rope
swing attached to an old oak tree so large it shaded a great part of the
lake. It was under that tree where the children gathered every summer
to ogle their choice of playmates. And that’s where they gathered to
say good-bye to the friends of a lifetime. There were those who would
return to Majestic Oaks every summer, such as Brian, Rebecca, and
Lexi, too. Majestic Oaks was a well-chosen vacation for those who
couldn’t afford to travel to exotic venues.

Once married to Mark, Rebecca’s travel possibilities were
endless, and she craved adventure. The couple planned an Africa
safari for their first adventure. Their wedding would be a quiet, lowkey
event. Not a lot of hoopla, her mom’s word. Even though money
was not an issue for Mark, it was for her. They felt the money would
be put to better use by paying down their debt, buying a house, and
funding their travel plans. It was sensible. Besides, it looked like Lexi
and Brian would also take that walk down the aisle someday, too.
Since Brian was her fraternal twin, she would have a big part in that
wedding. That would be enough for her.

Reflecting on how lucky the four of them were, Rebecca couldn’t
quite shake the feeling of impending doom. Was it because her mom
always said, “The four of you are too good to be true”? Or
“Everything good comes to an end”? Rebecca grew up believing these
phrases. Whether it was a straight-A streak or Brian winning every
swim meet, whenever she got that feeling, it was inevitable. And she
was getting it now.

Lexi was a blonde. Beautiful and sweet. She chased after Brian
every summer since she had her braces off and finally snared him in
their senior year. But being separated each year at college proved to
be a challenge for the two of them. Coming together in the summer,
their love grew, as if being reinforced by the beauty and memories of
summers gone by. Never giving up on the love they shared, each one
held steadfast to the other. It made Rebecca wonder if the same would
hold true for her and Mark. She wanted to think so, but that phrase,
too good to be true, kept sneaking back into her mind.

Lexi stretched her long legs out in front of her and admired her
pedicure. “I should have chosen pink.”
Glancing over at her toes, Rebecca curled her own underneath her
chair. “If you wanted pink, Lexi, then why did you get red?”
“Brian likes red, especially when they’re up in the air.” Lexi
giggled, and Rebecca rolled her eyes.
“Ugh, too much information. Anyway, I just think if you wanted
pink, you should’ve gotten it. They are your toes. They belong to
you.”
“I know. I just like to make Brian happy.”
“You’re such a sap, Lexi.”
“What do you think is taking them so long? They’ve been gone a
long time.”
“Hopefully they’re having a heart-to-heart. They’ve really been at
each other lately.”
Standing up to stretch her legs, Lexi exclaimed, “Sorry, Becs, but
Mark has been such an asshole to Brian this weekend, and you as
well. I don’t know how you take it.”
“Not that it’s an excuse, but he’s been under a lot of pressure.
Friends have to forgive that once in a while. It’s been one thing after
another. Watching your friend excel to heights you’ve only dreamed
of while you struggle just to remain in a sport you love has to be
difficult. I know he will be happy for Brian one of these days. It’s just
that, right now, he’s frustrated.”
“I hope you’re right. I’d hate to see him lose everything, you
included.”
“I will hang tough with Mark. He’s worth it. He’s the love of my
life. Together we make sense.”
Lexi reached down and grabbed her hand in silent understanding.
Rebecca smiled as she stared at the loving gesture from her friend.
When Lexi’s hand went limp, dropping hers, Rebecca followed her
extended arm with her eyes. She was pointing to something
happening across the lake. She heard Lexi say, “Becs? Please tell me
I’m dreaming.” Staring at the commotion taking place on the other
side of the lake, she heard the faint sounds of the sirens for the first
time. Both standing up, straining to see, they peered across the lake.
There, through the trees, were flashing lights of red and blue, all
converging on one spot. The phrase popped into her mind once again.
This is it, Rebecca thought, the end of everything good.