The Truth Be Told (The Truth in Lies Saga #3)

The Truth Be Told

by

Jeanne McDonald

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. No person, brand, or corporation mentioned in this book should be taken to have endorsed this book nor should the events surrounding them be considered in anyway factual.

Copyright © 2015 Jeanne McDonald

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author.

Visit the author’s website at
www.jeannemcdonald.com

First Edition: May 2015

Edited by: Jo Matthews with Written Elegance

Cover Design by: Jada D’Lee Designs

Interior Formatting by: Jo Matthews with Written Elegance

Cover images by: oneinchpunch and hallucion_7 via Dollar Photo Club

 

There is a light that guides us to the truth.

I dedicate this book to all the seekers of truth and love.

 

Prologue

McKenzie

 

“What are you thinking about?”  The soft rumble of Drew’s voice tickled my ear.  

My head rested on his shoulder, caught between reality and the world of dreaming.  After everything that had happened, I was mentally and physically drained.  Now, thirty-some-odd-thousand feet in the air and for the first time in months, I felt truly happy, which seemed strange since I was heading straight for a hornet’s nest.  

Boston scared me.  Facing Drew’s family was bad enough, but coming face to face with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Olivia Hamilton, was even harder.  For so long, I’d hidden from her my real reason for my leaving Sarasota.  My departure hurt her in the worst sort of way.  In her mind, I abandoned her when she needed me most.  If she only knew the truth of how terrible of a person I really was, she wouldn’t consider me her best friend.  Losing her friendship altogether was something I had to prepare myself for once we reached Boston.

Gah, how was I to face her?  

Olivia deserved a friend who was there for her, as she had been for me when I lost everything I held dear in my life.  She had so much on her plate already with her pregnancy and her job, and I was about to add to her burden by admitting that the father of her child and I were in love.  It was because of me that all of her hopes and dreams would soon be destroyed.  And while all of that weighed on me, my heart still couldn’t bear being another day without Drew.  I’d punished myself long enough and suffered more heartache than anyone should have to endure.  Losing Evan, then breaking up with Nate, then leaving Drew and abandoning Olivia—I was emotionally drained.  

Only hours earlier I was in church begging God for guidance.  I was conflicted and needed answers.  Drew was about to leave for Boston and wanted me with him, and I wanted to be with him.  But the idea of openly admitting our love, not only to his family but to Olivia, while at a wedding, seemed in poor taste to me.  My heart struggled with its need to be near Drew and my desire to protect my friend.  Even though Drew had confessed time and time again he held no feelings for Olivia, I still felt terrible for the predicament she now found herself in.

By the end of the service, I thought I was prepared to let him leave.  Things were different now between Drew and me.  All of the lies that held us back were no longer an obstacle.  All that weighed between us was his family and my best friend.  Those things could wait a week while he celebrated the union of Gavin, his older brother, and Morgan.

Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until Gavin became infuriated with the idea of leaving me behind that I realized I wasn’t trying to protect his wedding.  I was afraid—terrified, really—of not only being hurt again, but of hurting someone I cared about.  By not going to Boston, I was once again running away from my problems.  No sooner had the fellas drove off, than I was in my car, barreling down the E-way back to my apartment to pack.  Poor Mackie, my kitten, thought I’d lost my mind as I shoved her little butt in a carryon.  

“I know what I’m thinking,” Jared piped up.  He turned around in his seat, that winning smile of his plastered over his adorable face.  I’d missed the shit out of him.  Our long conversations on the phone weren’t enough.  Out of everyone, including Olivia or Drew, I’d say Jared knew me the best.  He had a huge heart and a witty, sometimes sadistic, sense of humor.  His shaggy blond hair fell into his golden eyes, but that didn’t keep me from seeing them bounce with mischief.  

“And what’s that?” I dared to ask.

Drew slipped his hand into mine.  A soft chuckle resounded from his chest.  It was strange seeing him laugh at Jared.  When I left Sarasota, they could barely be in the same room together without daggers flying.  My Neanderthal wasn’t too keen on the discovery that my best bud had developed feelings for me that surpassed friendship.  If I were to be honest, I’d known Jared’s heart long before he revealed his secret.  But my heart had been conquered by Drew.  

Talk about your messed up quadrangle.  Olivia wanted Drew, but he loved me.  Jared loved me, but I was in love with Drew.  My life was one big soap opera.

Jared drummed his fingers together, the corner of his mouth twitching.  

Gavin peered over the plush leather headrest and gave me the cutest little wink.  His brown hair was slathered in a thick layer of gel.  A thin beard lined his slim jaw.  Eyes, blue as the ocean, stared back at me.  They weren’t quite aquamarine like Drew’s, but they were pretty all the same.

“So, what are we talking about?” he buzzed.

“Jared here was just about to fill us in on what he was thinking.  As if any of us cared,” Drew declared.

Jared gave a dramatic gasp.  “If that’s how you’re going to be…” He started to turn back around in his seat, feigning disappointment.

Me, the ever-gullible one, called out, “I care.  What were you thinking, Jare?”

Jared sprang back around, his smile flared wide.  “I was thinking about the look on the Skanky Ho Momma’s face when she sees you.”  He clapped his hands, flamboyant and giddy.

“Someone better have a cell phone ready to snap a pic of that.  I want to plaster it everywhere!” Drew cackled.

“Why do you hate Liv so much?” I questioned.  

All of them did, and I couldn’t understand why.  Okay, so she wasn’t Mother Teresa, but she’d always done right by me.  She took care of me in college, and came to my rescue when I needed her most.  Never once did she turn me away.  Olivia might be self-centered and a little ostentatious with her wardrobe, but deep down, I knew she had a good heart.

“I don’t hate her…” Jared paused, “…
exactly
.  But I can say if she were ever on fire and I had a bottle of water,” his eyes bounced between the three of us as he leaned in closer and stage whispered, “I’d drink it.”

Laughter ricocheted from Gavin and Drew throughout the compartment.  Jared wore a look of pride at making everyone laugh.  Well, almost everyone.  

Drew released my hand and nearly buckled over in laughter.  “Quack, quack,” he snorted.  

This caused an even further uproar of laughter that I didn’t quite understand.

“What the hell does that mean?” I demanded.  It was difficult not to laugh with the three of them howling, but somehow I managed.

“Nothing.  Nothing.”  Drew gasped for breath, holding his gut.

“No!  Really.  Someone tell me what that means?”

Drew, realizing I was getting a little frustrated, managed to calm down enough to tell me a story about Olivia appearing at his place wearing a bright yellow dress and waddling like a duck.  “She’s got a baby bump, but she’s not big enough to waddle yet,” he crooned.  

All at once, the weight of everything came crashing back down on me.  Olivia was pregnant with Drew’s child.  Out of everything I would have to endure, that was probably the worst of it.  I’d prepared myself for the shitstorm that would ensue the moment Olivia discovered Drew and I were together.  Not that I would blame her for hating me.  If the roles were reversed, I’d hate me, too.  But her pregnancy was a constant reminder that she would always be in his life.  Together, they had something I longed for…a baby.

“Wow,” I muttered, unable to mask my disappointment.  “I guess I missed a lot.”

Gavin reached over the seat and patted my cheek.  “Nothing you can’t get caught up on quickly.”

“I guess.”

Drew wrapped his arm around my shoulders, drawing me in close to him.  “Honestly, Baby, you haven’t missed much.  I’m happy to have you with us, Mickie.  I can’t express how much we all missed you.”  

If he only knew that wasn’t what really had me upset.  This was my secret to keep.  A jealousy I would always have to endure.  And maybe one day, Drew and I might start our own family.

“Thank you.”

I rested my head back on his shoulder and closed my eyes.  He smelled so inviting, and his gentle touch was very relaxing. So relaxing, in fact, I fell asleep.  I was awakened by the sound of the intercom coming to life.

“Ladies and Gentleman, we are beginning our final descent to Boston Logan International. It’s now nine twenty-three P.M. local time, and the temperature is currently eighty-one degrees. We have certainly enjoyed having you aboard today, and we hope to see you again soon. Thank you again for flying Skyway Airlines, and have a wonderful evening.”

My stomach lurched as the plane started to descend.  I stretched, wiggling my toes inside my sneakers.

“How long was I out?”

“Not too long. You looked so peaceful. I couldn’t bring myself to wake you.”

“You never could.”

“I enjoy watching you sleep. It comforts me.”  Drew brushed his knuckles across my cheek.  “You comfort me.”

I leaned into his hand, content to feel the warmth of his skin and the love in his touch.

Drew placed a soft kiss to my lips.  A bright smile appeared as he pulled back and glanced out the window.  “Look, Baby.”

I shifted forward to look out the window.  Such beauty and history lay out before me as we lowered closer and closer to the ground.  The evening glow of the moon danced over the water, and buildings full of history towered above the trees, beckoning me to explore their mysteries.

“It’s gorgeous.”

He leaned in and whispered tenderly in my ear, “Welcome to my home, Baby.”  I turned my head to find the most amazing man staring back at me.  His eyes were filled with so much love that it took my breath away.  He cupped my face in his hands and kissed me.

 

Chapter One

Andrew

 

“Seriously, man.  She should have her own ominous theme song that plays every time she enters a room.  Like the one you hear with Darth Vader.”  Jared glanced back over his shoulder at McKenzie and me.  He wiggled his brows and started humming the Imperial March from Star Wars.  Gavin trudged along beside him, shaking his head and snickering.

Everything about this felt right.  Here I was, back in Boston, and for the first time in years I wasn’t sick with regret the instant the plane touched the ground.  Confessing all my sins to McKenzie didn’t wash them away, but I felt freer somehow.  She accepted my past, understood my heart, and still loved me.  Not only that, but she boarded a plane knowing we were about to not only face my parents—who happened to be the most judgmental assholes on the planet—but also Olivia.  This was more than I imagined and more than I deserved.  To be loved by this woman was more than magic.  It was a miracle.

“What?  Oh
hell
no!” I returned, unable to conceal my laughter.  “Don’t you dare put her in the same category as Vader.  He’s a badass.  She’s just an ass.”

McKenzie let out a little groan of disapproval and her eyelids fluttered as she rolled her eyes.  No matter how much she disapproved of mine and Jared’s current childish behavior, she was as relaxed at my side as she had been on the plane.  It was wrong of me to continue to make fun of Olivia, but I couldn’t help myself.  Jared and I might not agree on most things, especially when it involved Mickie, but we certainly did where Olivia was concerned.  Nonetheless, I knew our jokes upset McKenzie.  To her, Olivia was a good person.  To me, she was the devil incarnate.

Today, more like this last week, had been a rollercoaster of emotions.  I went to Amarillo with the intent of bringing McKenzie home with me, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what it would’ve felt like to have her accept me for more than what was on the surface.  McKenzie knew the rawest part of my soul.  The events of my daughter’s death were no longer a shadow that hovered over my heart.  To let someone in, someone other than my family, was hard for me.  I hated the idea of McKenzie seeing me as anything less than the man she fell in love with.  Now, that thought seemed silly because my girl had the heart of an angel.

“Y’all aren’t gonna rag on her all weekend, are ya?” McKenzie chastised.

Jared stopped mid-stride and sidled up next to her.  He adjusted his luggage to wrap his arm around her shoulder.  Chills slithered up my spine.  I wanted to rip her away from him.  He had no right to touch her.  At least, not in my opinion.  “Now, McKenzie, wouldn’t you be more concerned if I
didn’t
make fun of Whore-livia?” Jared jested.

McKenzie rammed her elbow in his ribcage.  “She’s not a whore!”

Inwardly, I fist pumped, because Jared released my girl with a humph and rubbed his side.  My chest puffed with pride as I pulled McKenzie back to me.  She purred like a little kitten, or maybe it was the rambunctious feline who was being bounced in her carrier on top of McKenzie’s luggage.  I glanced over our shoulders to the little case housing McGonagall.  Mackie, for short, was a small black cat with white speckles in her fur.  My cats, Chewbacca and Wicket, were going to be so excited to have a new addition to play with.  Especially Chewie.  He loved to play and Mackie was a livewire.

“How would you know?” Jared grunted, still rubbing his side.

“I just do,” McKenzie retorted.

Gavin and I both nearly slammed on the brakes.  “That’s your argument?” Gavin guffawed.

“That’s a weak ass case,” I added.

“Oh, hush, you two.  I’m not an attorney, and in my world
‘I just do’
is more than enough of an argument to make my point.  I know her better than all three of y’all do, and if I say she’s not a whore, then she’s not a whore.”  McKenzie huffed and nodded her head as if to say she’d said everything she needed to and we were to simply take her word.

“Get off your high horse, McKenzie.  Even you’ve called her a whore.  You’re just jealous because I managed to incorporate it into her name,” Jared boasted.  McKenzie reached out to smack him but he dodged her.  Jared motioned for her to come get him, but McKenzie waved him off.  He shrugged and picked up speed toward the Arrivals exit.

 McKenzie slipped her hand into mine as we approached the doors.  I took a deep breath and squeezed her hand.  “Are you sure you want to go through with this?  There’s still time to turn around and head back home.”

“Andy, I’m here for you.  Whatever comes, we’ll face it together.”  She pulled our hands to her lips, placing a gentle kiss to my knuckles.  

I stopped us in front of the doors and turned to her.  “How on earth did I get so lucky?”  

“Beats me,” she teased.  I pulled her tight to my chest.  The smell of her perfume weaved itself through my memory.  McKenzie tilted her head up.  I couldn’t resist the urge to kiss her.  Our lips met, and for a moment everything beyond those doors disappeared.  All that was and was meant to be, stood before me, kissing my worries away.

“Get a room,” Jared scoffed, irritated.

“Preferably not one where we have to listen to you,” Gavin noted.

“Gavin!” McKenzie squeaked, heat rising in her cheeks.

God, how I missed her blush.

“He’s just jealous because Morgan wants to remain abstinent until the wedding.”

Gavin flipped me the bird and marched out the door with Jared.

A deep laugh exploded from me.  It was going to be so much fun fucking with my brother over the next week.  

McKenzie turned to the door, staring at it with a look of fear on her face.  “You ready?” I asked.

“As I’ll ever be,” she muttered, pulling me and her luggage through the door.

With McKenzie’s hand locked in mine, we exited the building into the warm June evening.  Beads of sweat formed on the back of my neck.  The humidity that plagued Boston was nothing like the dry heat of Texas we’d left behind.  Panic rose in my chest.  I fought to breathe.  Even after revealing my secrets, I couldn’t wash away the sins of my past.  This city would always be a reminder of the terrible things I’d done and the losses I’d suffered.

McKenzie must’ve realized my terror.  She squeezed my hand tight, reminding me she was by my side.  I glanced down at her to find forgiveness and understanding staring back at me.  All at once, peace encompassed me.

Sitting in front of the curb was a long, black limo.  The door swung open and out popped Morgan.  Her flaming red hair was piled on top of her head and bounced as she skipped toward Gavin with her arms wide open.  I had to admit, my brother was a lucky man.  Dr. Morgan Carter was a tall, svelte woman with a rack that no man in his right mind could refrain from taking a glance at.  She was smart and funny, and for some reason she loved Gavin.  In my father’s eyes, her beauty and wit were only added bonuses.  The fact that Morgan was a doctor and came from money was all that mattered to him.

My gaze dropped to McKenzie.  She was every bit as pretty as Morgan—even more so if you asked me.  Morgan was supermodel gorgeous, but McKenzie’s beauty was transcendent with her flowing blonde hair and slender curves.  She was a runner, like me, and her body showed it.  But for me, McKenzie’s beauty went even deeper.  From her sweet lips poured the philosophies of love.  Her blue eyes revealed the depths of her soul, and her heart carried the weight of the world.  McKenzie knew when to be serious and when to have fun.  She had a knack for seeing the good in people when others would’ve discarded them, and she never let others’ opinions sink in too deep.

The reunion between my brother and Morgan was heartwarming as his bride-to-be flung herself into his arms.  Gavin lifted her from the ground and kissed her.  It warmed my heart to see him so happy, and to feel that same happiness standing next to me.  I smiled and was about to lean down to kiss McKenzie when Jared shoved between us and wrapped his arm around her.  

“What the fu…?”

“Look, everyone! It’s Olivia!” Jared shouted.

I jerked around, catching sight of Olivia leaning against the limo, daggers shooting from her eyes.  Her baby bump prominent in the soft glow of the overhead lighting of the breezeway, she placed her hands over her stomach and pushed herself from the car.  A sickeningly sweet smile curled the corners of her mouth.  “Oh my God!  Kenz?”

McKenzie side stepped from Jared’s grasp and met Olivia for a hug.  

I leaned in to Jared, teeth gritted, and hissed, “What the fuck was that?”

“Are you blind?  The Wicked Witch had her bitch face on.  If you two kissed, there would’ve been one hell of a scene made.”

“So?  McKenzie and I aren’t going to hide from her.  Not anymore.”

Jared pushed his hair back from his face, exasperated.  “I’m not telling you to hide.  I’m telling you to play things safe until you get home.  Look at them.”  He motioned to McKenzie and Olivia.  McKenzie was tense, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.  Olivia stood rigid, analyzing everything about the woman she claimed as her friend.  “Do you really want McKenzie on edge all week because you two just
had
to tell the world you’re in love?  Olivia will make her life hell if you announce your amore now.”

“It’s not like she doesn’t already suspect,” I argued.  “She’d be a fool not to.”

“Suspecting is one thing.  Knowing is another.”

“That’s lying, Jared.  I won’t lie.  McKenzie deserves better.”

“Yes, she does.  She deserves a guy who can love her unconditionally without the added baggage of a knocked-up ex-girlfriend in the mix.”

Ouch!  That hit below the belt.

“But she doesn’t have that, and for some fucked up reason she loves you.  All I’m asking is that you put her first for once.  The trip to Texas, your stupid drunken fits, those were all about you.  You say you love her, well act like it.  Man up and protect her from the bitch-whore who wants to destroy her…and you for that fact.”

“I can’t believe you’re here!” Olivia squealed.

“Me either.  When the guys showed up asking me to come, I was stunned,” McKenzie supplied.

“They came all the way to Amarillo to get you?”

I sighed.  Jared was right.  Olivia was fishing.  She was out to hurt me, and if that meant tearing McKenzie down, I believed she’d do it.  By bringing McKenzie here, I’d put her between a rock and a hard place.  I was forcing her to choose between Olivia and me in order to appease my own conscience.  My gaze dropped to Olivia’s stomach.  It killed me that I still felt nothing for the baby that I supposedly fathered.  If only I had an inkling of a connection with the child. Maybe then I could manage to build a bridge between Olivia and myself.  Not only for our child, but for McKenzie, too.

McKenzie raked her teeth over her bottom lip.  It was obvious she was on edge, and I hated seeing her back in that situation.  With a heavy heart, I nodded once, letting Jared know I agreed.  It was time I put her first and protected her from the shitstorm that was coming our way.  When we were back in Sarasota, on our home turf, we could declare our love.  There, I could protect her, but here we were vulnerable.  We would simply have to keep our not-so-secret secret for a few days more.

Jared patted my back and moved toward the women.  “Of course we did.  It’s only fair I have a date for the wedding,” he bragged.

My stomach churned.  Every good feeling I had drained from me.  The panic caused by this city reared its ugly head, leaving me sick.  Deep in my chest, my heart thudded in agony.  This was not what I had planned, and while deep down I felt I was making the wrong decision by keeping us concealed, I couldn’t deny the logic in Jared’s thinking.  Not only were we saving McKenzie from Olivia, but we were saving her from my father, as well.

Jared wrapped his arm around McKenzie’s shoulder.  I could feel all eyes on me, except his.  Gavin and Morgan looked confused.  Olivia wore a look of disappointment.  And McKenzie seemed lost and hurt by the turn of events.  My face twitched and furrowed, silently praying she’d understand.

She squeezed her eyes closed for a protracted moment, her sweet lips flattening in a straight line.  When they opened, understanding and acceptance resonated from her stare.  She nodded and wrapped her arm around Jared’s waist.  “I couldn’t let him get in trouble with all the bride’s maids.  You know how this goofball is.”

“Yeah.  I sure do,” Olivia groused.

While the chauffeur packed our luggage into the trunk, we all slipped inside the limo.  My skin crawled when Olivia positioned herself next to me across from Jared and McKenzie.  She tried to nestle herself into my side, but I scooted as far from her as I could get.  

As the car pulled away from the airport, everyone carried on, laughing and chatting, except for me.  All I could think about was how I would now have to endure Olivia and my father without McKenzie by my side.  Not like I’d hoped, anyway.  

At times like these, I’d usually call my twin, Andie.  That’s when it struck me.  “Where’s Andie?” I blurted out.

A growl rumbled from Olivia.  She balled her fists in her lap and dropped her head back on the headrest.

Morgan chuckled.  She seemed so at ease, curled up next to Gavin.  Jealousy boiled in my veins.  I should’ve been sitting just like that with my girl. Instead, fucking Jared had her next to him.  The thought that he had orchestrated this the whole time, poked around in the back of my mind.  “Andie won’t be here ‘til later this week.  Her understudy sprained her ankle or something like that.”

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