Redemption Road (Roughneck #3)











I have one rule. It’s a pretty simple one, and I never break it. Don’t get attached. Attachment leads to feelings, and that leads to getting shit on. No thanks.

Fuck. That.

I have a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” reputation. But I sure as hell ain’t loving any of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll fuck them in a heartbeat, but that’s where it ends.  When they start getting that look in their eye, that’s when I’m getting the hell out of there. Unfortunately, that usually happens pretty quickly. I don’t even understand why. I never fill their head full of shit. I never make them empty promises. I never even kiss them goodbye. But they always come back for more.

Except for Mackenzie. She never came back. And she was the one running afterwards. She acted like she was scared to death as soon as I pulled my dick out. It was a little confusing, actually. Because she sure wasn’t scared when I had her against the wall; she was wild and she loved every second of it. When I opened the door at Sam’s place and saw her standing there, I wanted to devour her. Usually it’s the other way around. But I stared down into those big brown eyes and wanted her naked immediately. And she wasn’t playing hard to get. But none of them ever did.

We never even spoke. I had seen her around a couple of times, but that was about it. I even caught her staring, and so I would throw her a wink every now and then. But she always had her boyfriend stuck up her ass. He watched her like a hawk. It was kind of funny, watching her squirm. But she always played it off. But I liked watching her squirm. She was different than the others. She didn’t throw herself at me, and she wasn’t constantly taking my clothes off with her eyes every time she looked at me. Maybe that was one of the reasons I couldn’t get her out of my head the past few months.

But I wouldn’t break my rule. Most of the time, I would say fuck it, rules are made to me broken. But not this one.



Chapter 1


4 months later


3:34 a.m.

I stared at the clock on my phone. Dreams of Kash woke me from my sleep again. This seemed to happen almost every night. I always worried I would talk in my sleep. Jake would go crazy if I ever did. I had been lucky so far. Not that he would have heard me tonight, anyway. I was in bed, alone. It was a typical Friday night. He would stay out most of the night with his friends. I didn’t even care anymore. In fact, I encouraged it. Anything to keep him away from me. I didn’t think I could take much more of him. He had always been a jerk, but it was worse lately. It was almost as if he were testing me, to see how much of his shit I could take. Or maybe he was punishing me, for what I did. Even though I knew he didn’t have a clue about Kash, I felt like I was being punished.



Some days I couldn’t even believe I did it. That’s not me. God, I felt like such a whore! How could I do that?  But I couldn’t help myself, there’s something about him. Seriously, Mackenzie, “I couldn’t help myself,” what kind of slut-bag excuse is that?

Kash. Bennett.

I didn’t mean for it to happen. I just went to talk to Sam. Jake was being a jerk again, and I just needed to get away from him. I was hoping Sam’s was a safe place to get some peace. But it wasn’t. It was the most unsafe place I could have gone. When Kash opened the door, I instantly forgot about my fight with Jake. I forgot about him calling me a worthless bitch because I didn’t get the crease in his jeans perfect. I forgot about the fact that he threw a beer cap at my head when he opened it. I forgot about the look of disgust he gave me as he walked past me. I hated him sometimes.

Kash made me forget. When he opened the door and grazed my body with his eyes, I forgot about Jake. I forgot everything. All I could see was him. Those deep blue eyes that were almost black. They pierced right through me. No one had ever looked at me that way. And I was pretty convinced no one else ever would.

The sound of a car door slamming put Kash out of my mind. Damn it. He was home. I would pretend I was asleep and hope he was too drunk to bother me. But my body started to tremble when I heard the front door slam. Shit. Calm down. I started to take slow, deep breaths to calm my nerves. Luckily, my trembling had subsided by the time I heard the bedroom door open.

“Fuck,” Jake whispered, as he tripped over something. Probably his own feet. I could smell the liquor from across the room.

“What the fuck, Mackenzie!” he yelled, and I heard something hit the wall, my body jumping at the thud.

“Why do you leave your shit everywhere?” he slurred. But I didn’t move. I heard him unzip his jeans and I had to force the bile in my stomach not to creep into my throat.

I felt the mattress dip down, and I forced myself to stay perfectly still. The horrible smell of liquor, and the cologne I hated, burned my nose. The smell got stronger as he scooted closer. Please, no. Jake put his hand on my hip and slid it over my pajama pants.

“Take these off,” he mumbled, as he pulled on the elastic. I squeezed my eyes shut and didn’t move. Please, pass out. Please, pass out.

A few seconds later, he shoved my thigh with his hand and then dropped his head back on his pillow. It only took a minute before
I heard him snoring. Thank God. I let out a shaky exhale and tried to keep the tears away. I couldn’t deal with this much longer. I hated this whole situation. How did I let myself get here? How did I let myself get stuck?

The next morning, my eyes popped open as soon as the sun started to shine in my eyes. I looked over at Jake; he was still sleeping, thankfully. He looked peaceful when he slept. I don’t understand what happened to him. He had got so mean. When we first started dating, I thought he was just protective of me, and I liked that about him. But then I realized he wasn’t protective, he was controlling. And by that time, it was too late. Everything else had been stripped from me, he was all I had.  So I went through the motions every day, trying to keep the peace, and keep my mouth shut. It was easier that way.

I needed to clear my head. I didn’t want to think. So I slid out of bed as gently as I could and got dressed. I found one of my tennis shoes by the door, but didn’t see the other. I scanned my eyes across the room and spotted it at the end of the bed. That must have been what Jake tripped over last night.

I didn’t want to wake him, so I scribbled on the notepad on the bar. The last thing I wanted was for him to wake up still half drunk. That was always bad. I wasn’t up for it this morning.

Went for a run –M

I closed the door quietly and started a slow jog. I always took the same path. I took a left down our road and kept going until I got to the Williams’ Farm. Then I would head down to Crawford’s Horse Ranch, and then turn around and make my way back home. It was a five-mile run total, and just enough to clear my head. Running was my escape. It was something I discovered when I was thirteen. It was the only freedom I got from my parents as a teenager. They never let me stay the night with friends, or go to the movies. They were beyond strict. But they never hassled me about running. My mom would take me to the school track and wait for me on the bleachers. She would read her Bible to pass the time. So I would run until my legs gave out. I always hoped that she would get tired of waiting and just start dropping me off. I longed for freedom, but I never got it.

I put my earbuds in as I ran, and started my IPod. Music and running. Sometimes I think those two things were the only reasons I made it, some days. The familiar burn in my legs only fueled me and caused me to pick up my pace.  But then the sting of gravel rocks hitting my legs startled me. I looked to my right as Jake slammed on his brakes right beside me. I stopped immediately and propped my hands on my knees, realizing I was completely out of breath.

“What the hell, Mackenzie? Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?” Jake said, as he stared at me with bloodshot eyes.

Here we go.

“I just went for a run,” I said quietly through my heavy breaths.

“That’s not what I asked,” he said with a snarl.

“I didn’t want to wake you,” I said, trying to be nice. Trying to make it look like it was for his benefit, not my own.

“Get in the car!” he demanded.

“Jake, I’ve barely gone a mile.”

He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. He just stared at me with cold eyes.

“Fine!” I hissed.

I got into the passenger side and slammed the door harder than I intended.

“Don’t be a bitch,” he said, as he stared straight ahead and put the car in drive.

“How about you quit calling me names?” I said. I was so sick of being called horrible names.

“How about you don’t act like a bitch and I won’t call you one?” he said with a cocky laugh.

“Just take me home,” I mumbled.

“You’re lucky you’ve got a home,” he said, as he squeezed my knee, a little too hard.

Hate was a pretty strong word. But I was getting there.


Monday Morning

Dang it. I stood at the gas pump waiting on the fuel to slowly trickle into my tank. I was going to be late again. Dr. Weston had already warned me about it; I sure couldn’t lose my job. It seemed like Jake always chose the mornings to pick most of our fights, which always led to me crying and having to redo my makeup once he left for work. It’s like he wanted to get me fired. But he didn’t fight with me this morning though, I just couldn’t sleep last night and I was dragging today. Jake left for work early, so I didn’t have to deal with him. That was a plus. He was being offered the branch manager position at the bank he worked at, so he wanted to be early to show good face. He was good at that. He was a complete asshole behind closed doors, but no one knew it. He put on a good show around everyone. His friends. His family. His coworkers. I was constantly wishing he would act fake around me, too. But that never happened. I knew the real Jake all too well. Lucky me.

I opened the car door and reached inside my purse to check the time on my cell phone.


I had six minutes to get to work, and this stupid gas pump was taking its sweet time. As I stared at my phone, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I felt his presence without even seeing his face. I heard footsteps coming closer behind me. Damn it, how did I not hear his car pull into the gas station? It was so loud; you could hear it coming a mile away. I just kept staring down at my phone, I was frozen. My legs couldn’t move now even if I tried to get away.

“Hey, Mackenzie,” he whispered in my ear, with his chest against my back. My stomach filled with butterflies as I held my breath and closed my eyes. I couldn’t allow myself to breathe him in. I couldn’t allow myself to smell the sexiest scent I’ve ever inhaled. I couldn’t allow myself to see him. I couldn’t drink him in, he was too beautiful to resist. And I didn’t have a choice, I had to resist him. Even if it killed me, because I craved him. But if I gave in, Jake would kill me. So either way, I was completely screwed.

“Kash,” I said quietly without moving my body. I should take a step forward. Our bodies shouldn’t touch. But I couldn’t move.

“Hmm,” he said with a quiet chuckle. “I like it better when you moan my name,” he said quietly, and I could feel his hot breath on my ear.

“Kash, please stop,” I begged, trying to keep my knees from buckling.

“That’s a first,” he said as he backed away from me. “I’ve never heard you say
word before.”

I opened my eyes and turned around to face him. I was obviously a sucker for punishment. It was even worse than I could have imagined, or better actually. But worse, because I could never touch him again. I could never let him touch me. I wouldn’t be a cheating whore. I wouldn’t be all the things Jake liked to accuse me of being.

But I couldn’t deny how beautiful he was. He was wearing a fitted grey t-shirt with a black leather jacket on. He had those low slung jeans and black boots. His body was lean, and I could see his chiseled abs through that shirt. His face was just a little scruffy, and those eyes, God, those eyes. They pierced right through me. His dirty blond hair was messy, but perfect all at the same time. He was standing there, completely casual, and completely unaware that he had the potential to ruin me. Not that there was much left of me, but he would shatter me if I let him touch me, or taste me. Oh my God, I had to be strong.

“Please, don’t say things like that,” I said, trying my best to convince him that I meant my words.

“I thought you liked the things that came out of my mouth, I thought you enjoyed everything I did with my mouth,” he said, as he looked my body up and down. I was dressed in black scrubs and he was staring at me like I was wearing lingerie. He started to move closer to me. I couldn’t let him get closer. No matter how bad I wanted him.

“That was a mistake,” I said quietly, forcing those words out of my mouth, as I held my hand up in front of me.

He stared at me for a second as he bit the inside of his cheek. He wanted to say something else; I could see it in those eyes. But maybe I imagined it, because then he gave me a cocky grin and nodded his head at me.

“Suit yourself,” he said, as he turned around and walked away from me. He took a few steps and then turned his head and gave me a wink, still wearing that grin that would surely melt panties at any woman who witnessed it.

I gave him a small wave; it’s all my body would allow. I felt like I was about to collapse. How is it possible for someone to have that effect on me? On anyone?

He didn’t look back again, so I tortured myself and watched him walk to his car.  It was a sleek black muscle car. I have no idea what kind, but it was sexy as hell. He climbed inside and I heard the engine roar to life.  I continued to stare at him as he put the car in reverse and drove by the gas pumps. He was going slowly, and we just stared at each other. I should have looked away, but I couldn’t. He gave me another wink and then hit the gas as he sped out of the parking lot. I watched him until the car was out of sight.

The clicking sound of the gas pump brought me back to reality. I had to get to work. I tried to put my keys in the ignition, but my shaky hands caused me to drop them.

“Shit!” I whispered, as I picked them up and started the engine.

8:01. Damn it.

I threw my car in drive and headed to work, praying that Dr. Weston was running a little late.

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